Two men hurt when hit by propeller

TWO Tweed Heads men are lucky to be alive after they were hit by a boat propeller in a ‘freak accident’ at Mobbs Bay at South Ballina.

The accident happened on Wednesday afternoon when a 3.6-metre aluminium runabout, which was towing a third man on an inflatable tube, turned sharply.

Police said the rope snapped, throwing the two men in the boat into the water.

The outboard motor then went into full power and the boat sped along with no one in control. Both men were run over and hit by the propeller.

The boat eventually crashed into the riverbank and stopped.

Steve McKenna, another man from Tweed in the area on holidays, saw the accident as it unfolded.

“I didn’t realise how serious it was until I saw this guy from a houseboat reef one of the lads out of the water,” he said.

“Everything was red, he was covered in blood. Then the houseboat guy grabbed the other fellow in the water, and yelled to the third guy to keep on swimming until he got there.

“It was a very scary moment. I reckon the guy from the houseboat deserves recognition because he definitely saved the first lad’s life, and maybe the second one as well.”

The men were taken to the Ballina Sailing Club boat ramp, where they were met by ambulance officers.

A NSW Ambulance spokeswoman said a 38-year-old man was in a serious condition with severe shoulder and leg injuries. He was transferred to Lismore Base Hospital for surgery.

A second man, 36, was taken to Ballina Hospital to have stitches for a cut on his head. It is also understood he had concussion.

One of the men’s wives yesterday told The Northern Star they were ‘too stressed’ to talk about their ordeal.

“We’ve been trying to get them to rest,” she said.

“The boys are really shaken up. They are feeling pretty lucky to be alive at the moment.”

Ballina Jet Boat Rescue captain, Gary Meredith, said the situation was under control by the time his crew were called to the scene.

Police are continuing to investigate the incident.

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