Gary Meredith honoured by Jet Boat Surf Rescue

boat 1 boat 2 boat 3 boat 4 boat 5Ballina Jet Boat Surf Rescue stalwart Gary Meredith was honoured for his decades of service to the organisation by being named a life member today.

Gary received the award at today’s Sponsors Day, where the rescue service thanked those whose donations keep it operating.

The rescue boat has saved many lives during its 40-year plus existence, and Gary has been a part of many of those lifesaving missions.

One such rescue mission occurred in March this year, and Surf Life Saving NSW published this report of the incident:

“Two fishermen are counting their blessings after being rescued by the crew of the Ballina Jet Rescue Boat in a dramatic night-time search operation near Evans Head on the state‚Äôs Far North Coast.

“The Jet Boat was tasked by Police at 2.50am on Thursday 5 March to respond to reports a trawler was on fire off the coast of Evans Head. The volunteer rescue crew of Gary Meredith and Brad Heard grabbed their night rescue kit, rushed to launch the vessel and were negotiating the choppy conditions of the Ballina River bar shortly after 3am.

“As it turned out, the trawler had actually become snagged on a fishing net which pulled the boat underwater, rapidly sinking the vessel. The two fishermen aboard were tossed into the water but miraculously a small aluminium boat that was secured to the top of the trawler floated to the surface and the men climbed into the tinnie.

“The fishermen had managed to retain a mobile phone and were able to intermittently contact other trawlers at sea in the area. The Jet Boat crew were receiving relayed reports from Police as to the possible location of the stranded fishermen, firstly heading south to Evans Head, with the search area then moving further south to Snapper Rock.

“The search was proving difficult in the extremely dark conditions and the rescuers were using a Forward Looking Infrared (FLIR) camera to try to spot the missing men.

“Finally, at around 5.15am and about 2km offshore, the crew spotted a light, which turned out to be the fishermen holding up a mobile phone to try to attract attention.

“The men were brought aboard the Ballina Jet Boat and delivered to waiting Ambulance officers at the Evans Head fishing co-op. They were suffering from shock and some minor cuts and scratches.”

PICTURES: Gary Meredith with his life membership; the Jet Boat crew at today’s Sponsors Day; the boat in action.

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