Bridge to Bridge water skier still critical
UPDATE 11AM, MONDAY:
THE water skier injured in yesterday's iconic Bridge to Bridge race remains in a critical condition at Princess Alexandra Hospital's intensive care unit.
The 27-year-old Gold Coast man was stablised at Grafton Base Hospital yesterday, before being airlifted to the Brisbane hospital.
A 27-YEAR-OLD Gold Coast man is in a critical condition in hospital after falling 100m before the finish line of the Bridge to Bridge water skiing race at Grafton.
The skier was being towed by super class contender Top Gun and was on the return leg when his ski appeared to get caught under a ripple, sending the skier cartwheeling across the Clarence River surface.
Spectators on the river bank who witnessed the accident were quick to dive in to the water and swim to save the injured competitor.
Coffs/Clarence police Inspector Joanne Reid said the skier was unresponsive when he was pulled from the water.
"He was a very experienced skier, and it is understood he had done the Bridge to Bridge before several times," she said.
"On the return run about 100 metres from the finish line, with the boat travelling an estimated 100km/h his ski caught in the water and cartwheeled a couple of times.
"There were reports of a small ripple along the water, but we remain unsure as to the reason why his ski caught.
"The helmet released at the strap on impact, but he still hit the water at a considerable speed.
"He was taken from the water unresponsive and transported by paramedics to Grafton Base Hospital.
"At about 3pm he was airlifted to a hospital to the Gold Coast in a critical condition."
Insp. Reid said that there were quite a few spectators on scene, including the victim's family.
"There were a number of spectators on scene who witnessed the incident. A fellow skier who was being towed by the same boat and the boat's crew are in shock. The victim's family was on scene as well," she said.
"All equipment will be subject to further examination, but we don't believe there has been any equipment failure at this stage.
"Our fingers are crossed the skier pulls through"
Mark Stephenson, secretary of the event organiser, Big River Ski Club, said it was a very upsetting incident to occur on a fine day's racing.
"You never want to see someone get hurt in this sport, or doing what they love," he said.
"Being a high risk sport there are certain dangers involved but this is an upsetting occurance."
Mr Stephenson praised the efforts of those who rescued the skier from the water, including spectators who and swam to the skier.
"We had two ladies who swam out who had first aid training, it was lucky we had him in the boat really quickly and were able to perform resuscitation as he was transported to the wharf," he said.
"We used a flag system to warn competing boats that there was a hazard in the water. Race officials from Grafton to Ulmarra all held up orange flags which explained to the drivers to be cautious.
"The system worked very well today to ensure the safety of everybody in the water. All competitors were also mable to finish the race.
"All our thoughts are with the family of the injured skier."
11AM: A SKIER in the super class of the Grafton Bridge to Bridge water skiing race has been taken to hospital after being badly injured in an accident on the return stretch in the race.
The skier was being towed into the finish line behind super class contender Top Gun when he appeared to catch his ski under a wave and fell forward on his face moving at about 120kmh.
He was motionless in the river before an official boat made its way to the injured competitor. Officials administered CPR before transferring the skier onto the bank and into the back of the ambulance.
At this time the Big River Ski Club, the organisers of the Grafton Bridge to Bridge event, has no comment on the matter.
Beforehand super class champion Superman appeared to claim his third Bridge to Bridge gong in a row crossing the finish line in an unofficial time of 35:20:00. If that time stands Superman would also claim a new race record, beating the one the team set last year of 36:11:00.