Fisho slips off breakwall
A ROCK fisherman fell up to six metres from the top of Yamba's breakwall just before 9am yesterday, suffering injuries to his head and body.
A dramatic rescue followed, involving at least two local fishermen who were already on the scene.
Witnesses say the 64-year-old man, whose identity has not been released, was fishing from near the top of Turners breakwall and turned to say goodbye to friends when he slipped and fell to the water.
The rescuer, Kevin Cook, from Yamba, has been described as a hero who probably saved the angler's life.
Mr Cook, an experienced rock fisherman familiar with the location, saw the victim tumble into the water and scrambled down the wall and into the water to help, squeezing through a narrow hole between the rocks to reach the injured man.
Mr Cook said by the time he got to the victim, the man was having difficulty keeping his head above water.
The man appeared to be paralysed down his right-hand side, with major bruising and cuts on his face, he said.
"But he could hang on with his left hand," he said. "I gave him a pole and he hung on to the end of that, so the waves wouldn't pull him back through the rocks."
With some difficulty, he helped the injured fisherman onto the rocks.
Another fisherman, Les Smith passed his own jacket to Mr Cook to tie around the victim's waist and, with a rope held from above, improvised a harness to stop the man falling back into the water.
"All the right side of his face was blue and black, and he kept saying 'I think I've broken all my ribs', because he couldn't breathe properly," Mr Cook said.
"The waves were going over both of us."
Mr Cook remained holding the injured man until the Northern Region Westpac Rescue Helicopter arrived about 15 minutes later.
The injured man was winched up and flown to Maclean Hospital for treatment.
Last night he was reported to be in a serious, but stable condition, with head wounds and a fractured arm.
"If the young fella hadn't of gone down there, he would have slipped between the rocks and drowned," Mr Cook's father, Les, said.
It was not the first rescue the Cooks have been involved in. Kevin said Les rescued a man who had slipped from the breakwall in Yamba only a few weeks ago.