A fisherman desperately clung to his dying brother-in-law for 45 minutes after they were both knocked into the water when an enormous whale landed on their boat.
Stuart Collings, 61, and his brother-in-law Darren Curmi, 53, were enjoying a fishing trip out on the water at Sydney's Botany Bay, when their lives were suddenly thrown into danger. Both men were launched into the water when an enormous whale came crashing down on their ship, after breaching the ocean surface. With Stuart knocked unconscious by the impact, Darren held on to him for 45 minutes while desperately trying to raise the alarm.
Now footage has surfaced showing the boat, which was unmanned after they fell in, performing circular laps as Sydney's Water Police try to bring it under their control. One witness explained: "The boat is just is going in circles, no one is on it. Hopefully it doesn't hit the rocks."
Stuart was extracted from the water but despite the best efforts of emergency responders, he was pronounced dead at the scene. Meanwhile, skipper Darren survived and was taken to St George Hospital nearby. According to reports, the pair had only been on the water for around 30 minutes when the whale struck.
Witnesses who were also on the water at the time reported hearing a "big bang" at the moment of impact. One told Australia's Daily Telegraph: "Something big came out of the water, it was huge. It was still dark but you could see this big black shape jump out of the water."
The duo's family and friends have been left devastated by the freak tragedy. One of Darren's friends said he "can't imagine what he must be feeling" after surviving. "This is not something anyone expects to will ever happen. We can't wrap our heads around it," the pal added.
Siobhan Munro, Acting Superintendent of the Water Police - which oversees maritime law enforcement in West Australia - confirmed the whale breached close to the "run-about" boat, which caused it to capsize. "Right now there are lots of whales out there and there's lots of examples of whales breaching next to boats ... but this is a tragic accident," she said.
During a press conference this morning, New South Wales police minister Yasmin Catley extended her condolences to Stuart's family. "It's very early stages and it's very little information we know at this point in time," she said. "[We] were advised early a whale has been involved, who would have thought that would've occurred? It's terribly tragic and we feel for those family and friends.
She continued: "This morning two guys got up to to go out and enjoy themselves fishing, something I and most people in NSW love to do, and ended up in tragic set of circumstances. I believe the skipper stayed as close as he could to the deceased and was doing all he could to keep him afloat until police arrived."