Volunteers from Marine Rescue Kioloa and Ulladulla rescued an elderly fisherman last night from the icy waters of Burrill Lake in the Illawarra after a four-hour search.
The man, 73, was transported to hospital after being pulled from the water about 10.30pm, conscious but barely able to move his limbs.
The fisherman had slipped from his 10ft tinnie about 12.30pm and been unable to get back on board or to climb the steep lake embankment, spending 10 hours in the freezing lake before being found after a lengthy search in pitch darkness.
He was not wearing a lifejacket but was standing on rocks in the water, trapped at the base of the three-to-four metre cliff, when rescued.
MR Ulladulla duty radio operator Barrie Lovell-Davis had been preparing to close the unit’s base at Ulladulla Harbour about 6pm when a distressed woman arrived to alert rescuers that a friend had failed to return after launching his small boat from her back yard.
Mr Lovell-Davis alerted duty skipper and Ulladulla searchmaster, Keven Marshall, along with MR Kioloa and Police Marine Area Command to arrange for the Kioloa unit’s Rigid Hull Inflatable Boat to be tasked to Burrill Lake.
Kioloa crew members, Skipper Peter White and Peter Lee, were joined at the lake by Ulladulla crewmen Terry Campion and David Lindley.
Ulladulla Unit Commander Ken Lambert said the searchers had been guided by information the distressed woman had managed to give the rescue crew and police about where the missing man liked to fish.
Skipper Peter White said on the basis of this information, the crew had searched the northern end of the lake before heading south in response to a further report indicating the gentleman also fished in the shallow south-eastern arms of the lake, before they eventually found him.
'I’m sorry we didn’t get to him earlier. He’d been cold and wet for 10 hours,' he said.
Skipper White said the crew had been aided in the challenging search by the Kioloa unit’s recent familiarisation training on the uncharted local lakes, during which they had conducted a navigational survey of the waterway.
After several hours of fruitless searching, the crew on board Kioloa 20 spotted what looked like torchlights on the shore.
Crewman David Lindley said: 'When we got closer the people on shore told us they could hear someone calling out but they couldn’t see anything.
'We went in to Man o’ War bay and could hear the man calling for helping and eventually we spotted him in the water by torchlight.
'Terry managed to get him on to the bow of the RHIB and we got him back to the ski ramp. He couldn’t move his limbs and he had to be carried ashore after we beached our boat.
'The crew had alerted the base and an ambulance was waiting on the shore to take the man to hospital for treatment.'
by Ken McManus
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7:48 AM Fri 14 Jun 2013GMT
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