Echuca man dies after boat sinks

By Riverine Herald

THERE has been another holiday drowning tragedy, this time involving an Echuca family.

A 71-year-old from the twin towns has died after his boat capsized on Port Phillip Bay near Blairgowrie Friday morning.

The man and his wife had been out fishing in a family boat when it began to take on water.

Police have told media the couple set out around 10am and about two hours later they got into difficulty.

Unable to stop the flow the couple ended up treading water with their boat upturned beside them.

They were rescued soon after by fisherman Kristo Maliadis, who told Channel 7 he had first noticed the prow of the boat sticking out of the water and then saw the people bobbing in the sea next to it.

He carried them back to Blairgowrie where the man suddenly went into what is believed to be cardiac arrest.

Police said he had been conscious on the journey back to shore.

He was receiving CPR and was rushed to Frankston Hospital in a critical condition but doctors were unable to save him.

Police have described the man as an experienced boat owner and confirmed the bungs were in and that the man and his wife had simply gone out for a day’s fishing and were only moving slowly when the water started coming in.

“Officers from the Water Police will prepare a report for the Coroner following the death of the man,” a police spokesman said.

“Police are yet to establish the exact circumstances surrounding the incident and the investigation is ongoing,” he added.

As of Saturday Surf Lifesaving Australia reported 50 drownings – including several in Victoria in the holiday period. At the same time in 2018 only 40 had drowned.

Federal Sport Minister Bridget McKenzie has said the number of drownings during the peak holiday season was unacceptably high and was urging all Australians to be more vigilant in the sea, at pools and especially in rivers and creeks.

According to media reports, 42 people in the total from SLA have drowned in Australia’s waterways as opposed to lives lost along the coast in the past 31 days.

Ms McKenzie stated “having just completed my surf life-saving refresher course, I cannot reinforce enough the need to respect our waterways and surf conditions.

“At this time of year when the temperature is high, the desire to cool off doesn’t mean you shouldn’t overlook the conditions and take care when entering the water.”