SWEET EMBRACE: Members of John Jarretts family meet at Ballina Hospital just minutes after his mercy flight by helicopter. BRE
SWEET EMBRACE: Members of John Jarretts family meet at Ballina Hospital just minutes after his mercy flight by helicopter. BRE

Second survivor swears off a life at sea forever

By EMMA O'NEILL emma.oneill@northernstar.com.au WHEN John Jarrett's three children awoke yesterday morning, they weren't sure if their dad was alive.

John's two sons and his daughter only knew what the authorities had told them the night before their dad's fishing trawler had sunk and one man onboard had swum more than 12km to shore.

However, about 8am they received the most incredible news.

"They found him," were the words John's sister Rosemary Jarrett heard down the phone line and when she heard it she cried.

John was rushed to Ballina District Hospital soon after he was plucked from the water off Ballina by the paramedics aboard the Westpac Life Saver rescue Helicopter.

When he arrived at the hospital, members of his relieved family weren't too far behind. John is one of seven children.

And despite his 30-hour ordeal and suffering from hyperthermia, dehydration and exhaustion, John could still talk.

What he told his family was not surprising.

He told one of his six siblings, Julie Anne, as she visited his bedside: "I'm never going in the ocean again." It was a big statement from a man who has been working on fishing trawlers since he was 14, and whose family are also involved in the industry.

"I was shaking when I saw him," Julie Anne said. Rosemary Jarrett had also rushed to Ballina Hospital yesterday to visit her little brother and said John's three kids were 'beside themselves' after hearing the news he was alive and well following a distressing night.

While John was being comforted by his family in Ballina hospital, his crewmate Michael Williams was unaware his heroic swim the day before had been successful. Michael had saved John's life, even though x it had nearly cost him his own.

At Mullumbimby Hospital yesterday afternoon, Michael remained sedated to help him recover from his marathon 12km ocean swim back to shore.

While Michael's miraculous swim was making jaws drop across the country, his mother Fay Williams confidently announced she wasn't at all surprised by his amazing feat of stamina.

She revealed to the waiting media that Wednesday's ordeal wasn't the first time Michael had been forced to drag himself a long way back to shore.

"He is very strong," she said.

"About a month ago, Michael cut his foot kite surfing about a mile off Pippi Beach at Yamba and he had been forced to swim to shore."

While Fay Williams said she thought her son's swim to shore was 'wonderful', she was upset they hadn't yet found the third man missing from the sunken trawler.

That search will go on for a third day today. As the families of both men gathered to celebrate the survival of these men, their feelings of relief and joy were mixed with feelings of hope for the safe recovery of their courageous captain, who was still missing at sea.



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