Boy does a man?s job in Ballina sea rescue
By DAWN COHEN
MAX PERRIN had no time to think as the three-metre wave loomed over his father's fishing boat on Saturday.
The 12-year-old listened hard and acted fast, saving his father, Murray, his father's girlfriend, Pat Grills, and three other people who Murray and Pat were in the process of rescuing from treacherous seas near the Ballina bar.
"I just had to do it," said the Ballina High student.
"Dad told me to turn the boat towards the wave, put it in gear and stab it," he said yesterday.
Murray, Pat and Max were taking part in the Ballina RSL Fishing Club's estuary fishing competition with fishing pal, Gordon Hall, in another boat on Saturday. The Coast Guard put out a rescue call at 5pm for a sinking vessel, and the adults had no time to think.
In two minutes they had found the tip of a sinking boat, and were struggling to keep their own crafts afloat in the choppy seas, as 70-year-old Ray Deahm, and four of his family bobbed in the water.
"I held on to them until Murray would haul each one up," Pat said.
"But when we saw the big wave was at the side of our boat, Murray was busy with the rescue, and it was up to Max then."
While Murray Perrin's boat saved Brett Deahm, 30, his partner Renae Hayes and her 16-yearold daughter, Teneale, Gordon Hall was rescuing Ray and his other son, 27-year-old Darran.
"The older guy had taken in a lot of water," Mr Hall said.
"He had hypothermia. He was going under the waves. He had just a few minutes to go."
But Ray Deahm said he hadn't been too worried.
"I would never go close to the bar deliberately," said the Ballina resident.
"But the engine stalled, and a wave hit the back of the boat.
"We had five minutes before the boat went down. We stayed calm. My son gave me his lifejacket."
Ray's wife, Joyce, standing near the Coast Guard tower with the couple's two grandchildren, felt anything but calm.
"I could see my boys waving, but I could not see my husband," she said.
"One granddaughter was crying 'I don't want my poppa and daddy to drown'.
"All I could do was try to calm them, and call hysterically for the Coast Guard."
Her call worked, and her husband's confidence was proved right.
But yesterday, when The Northern Star introduced Ray to his rescuers, his calm vanished into heartfelt gratitude and tears.
"I have been trying to find out your names since Saturday," he said, hugging first Murray and then Gordon, both from Ballina.
"Thank you, thank you, mate. It's very good to be here talking to you."
"Pleased we could help," said Mr Hall.
"You were my biggest catch on Saturday. I only wish I could have weighed you in. I would have won the fishing comp then." The Coast Guard was unable to rescue Ray Deahm's vessel, but his wife Joyce does not care about the loss.
"As far as I am concerned, he is never getting in a boat again."