ON CALL: Wayne Abraham was at work when the police called and asked for his assistance at a boat capsize situation unfolding in Bowen.
ON CALL: Wayne Abraham was at work when the police called and asked for his assistance at a boat capsize situation unfolding in Bowen. Inge Hansen

Police call on diver for help

DIVING instructor Wayne Abraham was having a normal day at work yesterday when he received a call from the police.

A boat capsize, now believed to have been caused by a collision off Bowen Harbour, had been reported.

As one of the most experienced divers in Airlie Beach, with more than 18,000 logged dives over 31 years, police were calling on Mr Abraham to assist them with the situation.

Professional diving instructor at Whitsunday Dive Academy, Mr Abraham said police told him a boat had turned over in Bowen and they needed a diver urgently.

"I met the police at (Abell Point) Marina and even then, they weren't certain what had happened," he said.

"It wasn't until we were on our way up there, when they were talking to each other from the site, that they found out there were three people involved.

"One had been retrieved from the water and two were unaccounted for.

Mr Abraham said the urgency of the situation became quickly apparent.

"They'd recovered one person and he was undergoing CPR and there was someone still in the hull and they could hear tapping, so they said 'light it up' and the sirens were on for the rest of the trip," he said.

With the situation completely unknown to those on the shore, Mr Abraham said there was a feeling of "confusion" in the air.

"The VMR (Volunteer Marine Rescue) people didn't know what was going on, the ambulance guy had been there for two hours and there were about three ambulance vehicles there," he said.

"There could have been two or 10 people out there so they were preparing for the worst."

As Mr Abraham and the police officers arrived at the marina in Bowen, they were told a second person had been retrieved so they waited until the two survivors were brought to land.

"They brought both of them (the survivors) back and one of them was very cut up and you could see the shock on both of their faces," Mr Abraham said.

"(But) they walked to the ambulance vehicles themselves at their own steam."

Both men were treated for minor injuries and were discharged last night.

Another man, from Innisfail, who has not yet been named, was pronounced dead in the early afternoon.

Despite the tragic ending, Mr Abraham said everyone involved in attending the scene was very professional.

"To me, it was good that no one was making a big fuss," he said. "(Because) the bigger the fuss, the bigger crowd you draw."