A teenager is critically ill in hospital with a broken neck and severe head injuries after a humpback whale body-slammed his boat.
Nick, 18, was fishing with his stepdad Matt, 39, off the coast of North Narooma in New South Wales, Australia, when the whale leapt out of the water and landed on the deck.
The stepfather was left concussed but he managed to get the battered boat to shore and call the marine rescue, potentially saving Nick’s life.
The young man’s devastated family told the Daily Mail that he is fighting for his life in a coma and they don’t know if he will ever wake up.
‘Matt was able to quickly get them back to shore, using the VHF [radio] to make a mayday call on the way to organise an ambulance to meet them on arrival at the boat ramp,’ the family said.
‘Matt’s actions no doubt saved Nick’s life.’
They were both rushed to Moruya Hospital shorty after 9am on Sunday, and Nick was airlifted to hospital in Canberra, local media reports say.
He has undergone brain surgery and remains in an induced coma.
The family said the pair are seasoned fishermen and the accident could have happened to anyone.
Humpback whales can be up to 18 metres in length and weigh up to 40 tonnes.
Police have said there is an increase in the number of whales migrating along the News South Wales coastline, swimming close to the shore.
‘While inquiries are in their infancy, the incident demonstrates the dangers these mammals can pose to those on the water,’ Marine Area Commander, Superintendent Joe McNulty, said.
‘We encourage anyone hoping to get a closer look to maintain a safe distance.
‘You must not approach a whale any closer than 100 metres on a vessel, including boats, surf skis and kayaks.’
The whale is said to have been injured as blubber was found caught up in the wreckage.
A GoFundMe page has been set up to support the victims’ family for health expenses.
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