Man winched from Lake Illawarra as canoe disintegrates: video, photos

An ambulance chopper has winched a man to safety after his boat disintegrated on calm Lake Illawarra and his wife drifted away. 

The couple, aged in their 60s, were sailing a catamaran canoe for three hours on Tuesday afternoon before the vessel broke apart about 250 metres from the Berkeley shoreline.

The woman dialled triple-zero at 3.40pm, when she lost sight of her husband. 

“It [the canoe] broke apart – she was on one half; he was on the other,” Police Rescue senior constable Roland Curll said.  

“They drifted apart. She made shore raised the alarm and the search began and he was found out in the water.”

The man was wearing a life jacket. He had spent about an hour in the water before he was spotted by the crew of an ambulance rescue chopper tasked to the area about 3.50pm, NSW Ambulance Inspector John Brotherhood said.

“Shortly after arriving at the location, our rescue helicopter spotted him from the air,” Insp Brotherhood said. “He was in a little bit of difficulty, so we authorised a winch.”

The choppers landed at Holburn Park and the man was helped into a waiting road ambulance.

“He’s suffering from hypothermia and a little bit of fluid loss because he was in the water for a long time,” Insp Brotherhood said.

“Considering its almost summer it’s quite cold out in the water

“But it’s a really, really good outcome. He was actually able to walk with assistance out of the helicopter to the ambulance.” 

The 65-year-old man was transported to Wollongong Hospital in a stable condition.