The colleague and friend of a Sydney paramedic who fell to his death during a dangerous canyon rescue mission says he has been haunted by the tragedy every night for the past 2½ years.
Tim Thistleton, a veteran of the state's Specialty Access Casualty Team, was helping his mate Michael Wilson rescue an injured canyoner on Christmas Eve 2011 when Mr Wilson and the patient went over a ledge and plunged into the canyon below.
The patient survived, but Mr Wilson suffered severe internal haemorrhaging that claimed his life soon after.
A coronial inquest into Mr Wilson's death has heard that he and the crew were attempting a extremely dangerous rescue winching manoeuvre that they had never done before, nor been trained in. It has also heard that he may have been pulled off the edge by a winch cable that was supposed to lift him and his patient to safety.
Near the end of a marathon examination session during which he had remained remarkably composed, Mr Thistleton broke down.
"I can go over this so many times and say there are so many points where I could have done something else and it's breaking me apart," Mr Thistleton said, choking back tears. "Every night of my life for the past 2½ years."
Later the inquest heard that the rescue mission had been conducted in near darkness, despite repeated warnings from those back at the team's base in Bankstown.
It was the consensus of the SCAT paramedics manning the radio that it was too dark to undertake such a dangerous rescue.
"I was concerned about the amount of light left in the day – it was approximately 10 minutes to last light," one of these paramedics, Bryan Jordan said.
"I thought he had missed his opportunity for recovery that night and that he should wait for my aircraft because it was fully NVG [night vision goggle] capable or sit out the night."
Another paramedic, David Zids, who came to the scene after the accident, was told Mr Wilson's injuries were consistent with being involved in a serious car accident at 60 to 70 kilometres an hour.
He abseiled down to the bottom of the canyon to try to save his mate, but the injuries were too severe.
The inquest continues.