Wave of interest in snorkeller’s lucky escape

Derek Watts with his rescuers Renny Carroll, City of Stirling beach inspector Kevin Emery and Peter
Derek Watts with his rescuers Renny Carroll, City of Stirling beach inspector Kevin Emery and Peter

Mr Watts was flung on an underwater rock by a wave that dislodged his mask and snorkel and according to the beach inspector had it not been for the quick actions of nearby surfers, his story might have had a different ending.

‘I would say he came within 30 seconds of meeting Saint Peter in person,’ Mr Emery said.

‘Only the intervention of the surfers saved him.’

Mr Emery said he responded to a St John’s message and when he arrived at the scene Mr Watts was distressed and struggling to breathe.

‘I administered oxygen therapy and ran our usual suite of tests on him,’ he said.

‘I found water in the lungs… and due to the risk of secondary drowning, I referred him to the ambulance crew for transport to hospital, where this condition could be monitored and dealt with.’

Last month Mr Watts reached out to the Times in the hope he could find and thank his heroes.

After our article, several people, including Mr Emery and local beachgoers Kellie and Peter Baldwin, who helped Mr Watts that morning, came forward.

On Thursday Mr Watts got to meet his heroes and the Times was there to capture the moment.

‘It’s been amazing what has happened since the article went to print,’ Mr Watts said.

‘Thanks to the story there’s been so much feedback and people are coming forward; I’m very surprised. I didn’t expect that and am so thankful to them all.’

Mrs Baldwin said her husband Peter and his friend brought Mr Watts in on their boards after another man spotted him in trouble.

‘The gentleman turned him over in the sloppy water in a rescue position and I also assisted the boys on the way into shore on my stand- up paddle board due to the choppy surf conditions,’ she said.