The Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter was tasked to rescue people off a sinking boat at Ballina.
The Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter was tasked to rescue people off a sinking boat at Ballina.

Boaties thank rescuers after dangerous Ballina bar mission

IMAGINE this frightening scenario.

It’s pitch black, a 2m swell is breaking over the treacherous Ballina bar, the ocean is freezing cold and your boat is quickly sinking.

That was the situation facing boat skipper Guy Peluso and his wife at 2am on June 12 this year, after their 45-foot cruiser hit an object and began sinking bow-first.

>>> ‘MAYDAY’: Behind the scenes of nightmare rescue at sea

They issued a mayday call and a crew from Marine Rescue Ballina was dispatched, forced to cross the hazardous Richmond River bar on a large swell in challenging conditions.

Guy Peluso and his wife with the mobile phone in a waterproof case that they used to summon help.
Guy Peluso and his wife with the mobile phone in a waterproof case that they used to summon help.

The Westpac Rescue Life Saver Rescue Helicopter also responded and guided the rescue vessel to the scene, where the couple was retrieved from the ocean.

With the helicopter illuminating the river mouth, the rescue boat again made the crossing safely and transported the couple to a waiting NSW Ambulance.

>>> PHOTOS: Dramatic rescue as boat sinks off Ballina

Mr Peluso said he was incredibly grateful to the volunteers.

“I have a very clear memory of the members that saved us standing shoulder to shoulder smiling as we were escorted to the ambulance,” he said.

“A happy ending to a rescue, given it was pitch black and a 2m swell was breaking across that bar.

“They we proud members of Marine Rescue who had trained and developed their skills over years to pull off an amazing rescue.

“We are very thankful.”

Members of the Ballina Marine Rescue unit who played a critical role in saving the lives of two boaties on the Ballina bar in June.
Members of the Ballina Marine Rescue unit who played a critical role in saving the lives of two boaties on the Ballina bar in June.

This week, six volunteers from Marine Rescue Ballina were presented with awards for that life-saving offshore search and rescue mission.

Marine Rescue NSW Deputy Commissioner Alex Barrell presented the members with Commissioner’s Citations recognising their skill and determination.

The Citation was presented to rescue vessel crew members Glenn Sanders, Ian Grimwood, Phil Causley and Bill Ewen and radio operators Ray Tennent and Tony Hensley.

Unit Commander Zolt Mankowsky also accepted a unit citation.

Mr Barrell congratulated the unit members on their rapid and professional response to rescue people whose lives were in imminent danger in the dark and open ocean.

“There is no doubt those crew members, with top-class communications support from the radio base, saved two lives that morning,” he said.

“There can be no greater accolade.

“It is a demonstration of our members’ teamwork and commitment to our mission of saving lives on the water that they were prepared to head out in difficult conditions, at some risk to their own safety, to help those in real trouble.

“It also is testament to the professionalism of MRNSW training and world-class resources, all of which are an investment in the safety of our volunteers and the boating community.”



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