Man fined $300 after saving a life

Dave Burke at Caloundra.
Dave Burke at Caloundra.

A MAN who saved his mate's life after a jetski accident at Caloundra is outraged that he has now been hit with a $300 fine by authorities.

Brisbane man Dave Burke suffered the hit to the hip pocket by Maritime Safety Queensland for “failing to report an incident”.

The “incident” happened near the Caloundra Bar on Easter Sunday when a large wave knocked the 30-year-old and his 29-year-old friend off Mr Burke's jetski.

The jetski sank and Mr Burke was picked up by an onlooker and taken back to the beach.

“I've then borrowed a jetski and gone out to get my mate,” he said.

“He was wearing a vest but he was pretty frightened.

“He kept getting hit with some pretty heavy waves and because he had the vest on he wasn't able to get away from them.”

Both men made it safely on to the sand of Bribie Island, where a female sunbather alerted the nearest life guard.

Mr Burke said his friend was uninjured and had walked about 200 metres by the time the life guard and Coastguard arrived on the scene.

“He told them he didn't need any transport but the Coastguard have insisted.

“Now, because they've insisted on a transport that we didn't want, I've had to pay a $300 fine.”

Mr Burke said the life guard advised him he would take care of any required paperwork and he retrieved his jetski with the help of another jetski rider.

Several weeks after the incident he was contacted by Maritime Queensland, who requested he make an incident report.

He claims he did that but officials say it never arrived and he received his $300 fine in the mail last Monday.

Mr Burke said Maritime Safety Queensland viewed the incident as a “man overboard” that required reporting.

“It's a jetski. If that is a man overboard, then Maritime should be chasing up the other 200 of these that happen every day,” he said.

But Caloundra Coastguard Commander Bill Rowland said he did not recall the incident but the law was very clear.

“He has to understand that as the skipper of a vessel... he has responsibility under the Marine Act to report an incident to a shipping inspector within 24 hours,” he said.

“The law is very clear on that. There is no ambiguity.

“He obviously didn't do that and he got fined.

“I imagine there will be more to the situation than he is saying.

“He would not be fined for falling off a jetski, he would be fined for not reporting an incident which the MSQ determined was a reportable marine incident.”

Mr Burke said he had paid the $300 and while he would save his friend again if he had to, the fine had left a sour taste in his mouth.

“When you've busted your arse to get to someone and also risked your own life – this is the thanks you get,” Mr Burke said.

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