A SPEAR fisherman is lucky to be alive after an extraordinary chain of events led to his rescue near Kiama Blowhole on Wednesday morning.
Kiama council lifeguard Jamie Caldwell, who was among the first on the scene, gave an account of the dramatic rescue, and said the man “wasn’t meant to die today”.
The man, in his 60s, was fishing at Storm Bay about 8.30am when his diving partner noticed him motionless in the water.
“[The divers] were separated, about five to 10 metres away from each other when his mate decided he might just go back and check,” Mr Caldwell said.
“He rolled him over, saw the colour of his face, then 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.
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 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.
“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.”