Mechanical lifesaver launched
By DAWN COHEN email@example.com
WHEN Margaret Hicks looks at the gleaming new jet ski, she sees a machine that could have saved her son's life.
Yesterday, the mother of Matthew Hicks, who drowned at Shelly Beach in September last year, looked on at the donation of a Yamaha jet ski to Ballina Jetboat Surf Rescue ? the volunteer lifesavers who pulled Matthew from the surf, but were unable to revive him.
"It is hard being here, but it is also good," she said.
"Now we need a jet ski at Lennox Head, too."
The $20,000 top-of-the-range wave rider has been donated by new resident Peter Menegazzo, owner of Stranbroke Pastoral Company.
Mr Menegazzo, who moved to Ballina Shire six months ago, has promised to replace the jet ski in four years time.
"I have been interested in the surf all my life, and now my grandchildren love the surf," he said.
"I wanted to contribute to safety for people in the water."
Jetboat Surf Rescue president Pat O'Connor said the vessel would improve the rescue capabilities and response times of the service.
"It is small and mobile and will give us better options in dealing with rescues, particularly on the Ballina bar," he said.
The jet ski is already assisting the organisation, even though it has not yet touched the water.
Volunteers have been calling, keen to join the jetboat crew after hearing of the donation.
The wave rider will be used for surveillance patrols along Ballina Shire beaches during the summer surf season.
Ballina Shire Council has donated the vehicle's fuel costs.