AS THE Walker and Brown families celebrated New Year's Eve last night, it might have been a very different occasion.
Brock Walker died on Tuesday.
His heart and respiration were stopped by a lightning strike as he and his cousins Jordan and Connor Brown sheltered with their tinny under mangroves near Crab Creek, on the Tin Can inlet.
Brock, 19, held on to the tinny, their only lifeline back to shore, as sudden rain pelted down, accompanied by thunder and lightning.
Brock says they all saw and felt the first lightning strike and recalls saying, "We'd better get out of here."
He remembers nothing of the second strike, close enough to blast a huge electric shock through the boat's conductive aluminium hull, finding earth through Brock's body as they stood knee-deep in salt water.
Jordan, 15, and Connor, 16, tell a story that began with the resuscitation course they had completed only recently at St Patrick's College.
Jordan did not do well enough to get his certificate, but in his moment of truth, he passed a much more important test.
"We were just putting out crab pots when the storm came in," Jordan said.
"Lightning struck the water close by and then all I can remember is a white flash and our ears were ringing.
"Brock was lying face down in the water twitching but there was no pulse.
"We picked him up and tried to brace him on a mangrove branch to do CPR, with Connor doing the breathing.
"That didn't work, so we tried putting him on a couple of our crab pots, but that didn't work either.
"We put him in the boat and went for help.
"We got nowhere because the boat was full of water.
"Connor had to steer the boat and bail it out at the same time and I had to do the CPR and breathing.
"We couldn't call for help because our phone was wet and so were our hands and we couldn't swipe it.
"Then near the boat ramp, Brock tried to push my hand away from his chest.
"I said 'Can you hear us?' and he nodded.
"I asked him if he could squeeze my hand and he did.
"Then he could wiggle his toes. A woman on shore called the ambulance and when they arrived, Brock was in a bad way but alive and he was transported in a stable condition."
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