Drone helps save man from icy seas

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FISHERMEN on the rocks at Mt Martha who “saw something odd” out at sea sent their drone to hover over a man in distress and pinpoint his position to rescuers.

The fishermen called 000 and the Police Air Wing was able to spot the man about one kilometre off Hearn Road, 4.30pm, Friday 7 June.

Volunteer Marine Rescue skipper Tim Warner said they received a call from the chopper to rescue the man, 49, who had been thrown out of his 14-foot tinny after “hitting an object” in the water.

The incident was made more dangerous because the tinny with 40hp motor was going flat out in a “very tight circle” around him.

“Our Mornington vessel AK1 was assisting another vessel with a flat battery when we got the call,” skipper Warner said. “Thankfully the man was not injured and was able to inflate his life jacket when he hit the water. We checked him over and then proceeded to stop his vessel. We usually attend at least one of these incidents a year, so are very experienced at stopping out-of-control vessels.”

The VMR crew then ferried the man back to Safety Beach.

Skipper Warner said: “The man’s life jacket definitely saved his life as the air was really chilling down and it was just on dark.

“The guy should buy a lottery ticket as everything went his way – especially being seen by the fishermen on the rocks who were able to fly their drone a kilometre out to him.

“The guy saw it and waved to the drone that he was OK and the fisherman called 000. The Air Wing was on the scene five minutes later and the VMR crew five minutes after that.”

Coast Guard Safety Beach towed in the first breakdown.

First published in the Mornington News – 18 June 2019

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