Blowhole diver lucky to be alive: rescuer

A spear fisherman is lucky to be alive after an extraordinary chain of events led to his rescue near Kiama Blowhole yesterday morning.

One of his rescuers, who yesterday gave an account of the dramatic ocean rescue, said the man "wasn't meant to die today".

Ambulance paramedics treat a spear fisherman. Picture: DAVID HALL

Ambulance paramedics treat a spear fisherman. Picture: DAVID HALL

The man, in his 60s and believed to be from out of town, was fishing at Storm Bay about 8.30am when his diving partner noticed him motionless in the water.

Kiama council lifeguard co-ordinator Jamie Caldwell, who was among the first on the scene, commended the man's friend, as well as two good Samaritans for saving the man's life.

"The way it all panned out, he is one lucky man," Mr Caldwell said.

"[The divers] were separated, about five to 10 metres away from each other when his mate decided he might just go back and check.

"He noticed [the other man] wasn't moving so he grabbed him to get a response.

"He rolled him over, saw the colour of his face and thought this isn't good. That's when he grabbed him and started powering towards the shoreline."

Nearby, two men - Camden holidaymaker John Hexton and Kiama lifesaver John Collie - were out for separate morning walks when they both heard the man's friend calling for help at the shore.

Mr Hexton scrambled down the rocks and helped to pull the unconscious man out of the water.

"I didn't even think about it," he said.

"I have CPR training through work so I just knew I had to go.

"I think you just click into gear, so I just concentrated on getting him out and trying to look after him."

Mr Collie, an experienced surf lifesaver, arrived moments later.

"Within a few seconds of the other guy doing some chest presses [the diver] was bringing up a lot of blood, so I said we needed to get him on his side and clear his airways," Mr Collie said.

"Slowly but surely the man's face changed from blue to pink."

Mr Caldwell then arrived, along with an off-duty paramedic who happened to be at the beach with his children.

Ambulance crews then took over and the spear fisherman was assessed by a doctor from the rescue helicopter before being taken by road to Wollongong Hospital in a serious but stable condition.

Mr Caldwell said he could not believe the lucky chain of events.

"The flow of everything - the fact his mate checked on him when he did, then for two people very close by that knew resuscitation - he was a very lucky man," Mr Caldwell said.

"It was good to see such a great effort and a positive outcome.

"This guy wasn't meant to die today."

Still shaken from his involvement in the rescue, Mr Collie said he was happy to be able to help save a man's life.

"Our lives are valuable and as you get older you become more attached, so I just knew I had to do something," he said.

"If there had only been one of us to help I think he could have drowned, but between all of us we made sure the man was alive."


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