JET ski rider behaviour is again being spotlighted after a frightening incident at McCrae beach where a swimmer alleges he was almost hit by a vessel close to shore.
Police are investigating the incident in which a Rye man, 69, was swimming with his wife and brother-in-law when the incident happened just after 4.30pm on Saturday, 3 February.
“I was only 10 metres from shore and I could suddenly hear a loud engine and feel the swish of the water pass my head, only to look up out of the water and see a fast jet ski pass two metres from my head,” the man told the News
“This guy was just offshore and could have easily hit me or other water users … he didn’t seem to be aware or care that there were people in the water.
“I was furious at his irresponsible behaviour, it seems to be the nature of the type of people who ride jet skis.”
But after he voiced his concerns to a group the rider was with, the man said he was appalled by the response.
“I was pretty much told by one of them to mind my own business,” he said. “I’m pretty sure almost being hit by a jet ski is my business.”
The man then left the water and flagged down some police that were patrolling nearby, pointing out the rider and vessel owner who were among a large group of about 20 men with two jet skis.
“This behaviour has reached a point where something must be done before someone is killed,” he said.
“Some of these riders are not getting the message about safe riding and what they can and can’t do.”
Police spoke to the men at the time, and the man said he also reported the incident at Rosebud police station the following day.
“I have statements from at least five people who were at the beach and all appalled by the group’s behaviour, they had ruined the beach for everyone there that day,” he said.
He is calling for more swimmer-only beaches and tougher restrictions for watercraft users, like that at Anthony’s Nose at Dromana, where watercraft can only be ridden 100 metres either side of the boat ramp.
“These jet skis are lethal weapons.”
Police have been told the jet ski rider stopped to assist after the incident before leaving the area.
Investigations remain ongoing. Anyone who witnessed the incident or with information is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or online at www.crimestoppersvic.com.au
Last summer there were also calls for better regulation of watercraft vessels, after swimmers and boat passengers were terrorised by jet ski riders.
In one incident at Safety Beach, a 16-year-old who had only just obtained his marine licence intimidated boat passengers by repeatedly driving dangerously close to the boat and spraying those on board with water before speeding off.
On Christmas Day a jet skier with a male passenger terrorised a family on a boat 100 metres from shore, charging the vessel and creating such a violent wake that it smashed the boat’s window and knocked passengers to the floor.
Ryse Community Alliance chair Mechelle Cheers at the time said it had been lobbying the government for years for jet skis to be treated differently to boats.
Personal water craft (PWCs) are subject to hoon legislation, which means owners and operators can be prosecuted for operating an unsafe vessel, or dangerously, and PWCs can be seized.