Miraculous survival

Emergency crew stabilise Abel Manning for transportation to mainland.
Emergency crew stabilise Abel Manning for transportation to mainland.

The 26-year-old northern suburbs-raised boatie lost consciousness while travelling to Wilderness Island on May 21 and was thrown from his boat after it crashed into rocks.

He remembers nothing of the accident that left him with two brain haemorrhages, a shattered upper jaw, broken clavicle and multiple puncture wounds, cuts and abrasions to his body.

‘I have no idea what happened, no-one knows,’ he said after a month recovering at his parents’ Yanchep home.

‘They’ve (Department of Transport) taken the engine to do a diagnosis and my GPS as well, but that was found in the water so they’re not sure how much they can retrieve off it.’

Several factors contributed to his survival.

Luckily, he was not far from shore when the incident happened and he had told friend and island owner Jim Alston his expected time of arrival, which led to his quick discovery.

‘I had arranged to meet the owner of the island at the mooring, but he couldn’t find me. He found the boat with its engine still running and had to push it up the sand.”

‘He was calling out my name then he heard me groaning, carried me on his back to his motorbike and back to the accommodation.’

From there it took two Royal Australian Air Force medics, the help of a nearby oil and gas transport vessel, an ambulance and the Royal Flying Doctor Service to get him back to Perth. “Jim thought I was dead when he picked me up off the rocks, that’s when he said he thought I was done,’ Mr Manning said.

The St Stephen’s School graduate’s girlfriend is also grateful to the Flying Doctors, who flew her to Perth after a scooter accident in Exmouth earlier this year.

The latest experience has not deterred the avid fisherman who returned to Exmouth last week after making a speedy recovery. ‘I can’t wait to get back out on my boat, out on the water again,’ he said.

Mr Manning, who runs Exmouth Boating Hire and Drive, is ensured and hopes to get his business up and running again shortly.

A Department of Transport spokeswoman said a marine incident investigation had been launched to determine whether there were any breaches of marine  laws and would recommend appropriate action if necessary.

THE FACTS

Royal Flying Doctor Service WA
Established 85 years ago
Largest aeromedical service in the world
In the past 12 months, it has transported more than 9000 sick and injured patients to hospitals.
Has 15 aircraft, five bases and 300 staff in WA.

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