High seas rescue earns National award for Ballina Jet Boat
A DRAMATIC night rescue of five men from two capsized boats just off Ballina in April has earned the Ballina Jet Boat Rescue service a national Surf Life Saving award.
In huge seas and a surging tide on April 15, Garry Murphy, Bradley Heard and Mark Puglisi crossed the treacherous Ballina bar and managed to get the men to the safety of Shelly Beach, alive.
Jet Boat Rescue president Garry Murphy said the Surf Life Saving Australia Individual Meritorious Award with silver insert was the result of exceptional co-ordination in difficult conditions between the jet boat team, emergency services and the Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter.
Mr Murphy said the jet boat received a call to respond to the capsized Ballina Marine Rescue boat and a motor cruiser at 2am.
"It had been very windy the day before, the seas were very big, there was still a lot of dirty water in the river and it was a very dark night," he said.
Only 47 of the prestigious individual honours have been awarded since 1922.
Mr Murphy said the land based Ballina Jet Boat Rescue team involved in the incident had also been awarded a certificate of merit.
"Garry Meredith, Simon Fogarty, Elton Cummings, Ben Redman and Ross Trease all provided invaluable assistance, experience, advice and support from land."
The Ballina Jet Boat Rescue crew will receive their awards at the National Surf Life Saving Australia's Awards of Excellence on October 26 at the Novotel, Brighton Beach, Sydney.