'Coastguard botched my rescue'
THE Mooloolaba Coastguard is facing a potential lawsuit after the rescue of a fisherman turned into a nightmare when large waves knocked the angler out of his boat on the treacherous Mooloolaba sandbar.
Daniel Mallon, of Sippy Downs, has accused coastguard volunteers of incompetence, claiming they foolishly positioned his boat in the path of large, breaking waves while they were towing the 5.5m half-cabin Crestacraft to safety on Saturday night.
The incident, which apparently left the uninsured boat a write-off, comes a month after a coastguard vessel overturned on the bar.
At the time, Mooloolaba Coastguard commander John Annabell attributed the embarrassing incident to the bar's increasing danger.
But Mr Mallon, who said he feared for his life while swimming to safety in the dangerous conditions, claims the trauma he endured could have been avoided had the coastguard crossed the bar correctly.
"I don't want anything written in the paper about the coastguard doing a sterling job," the former commercial fisherman said yesterday while recuperating at home.
"They almost killed me.
"It was absolutely ridiculous."
Mr Mallon, who suffered severe back bruising and feet lacerations, called the coastguard about 6.30pm after experiencing engine problems while fishing at the Outer Gneerings.
After being knocked overboard just before 8pm, he was left floundering in the ocean without a lifejacket and in considerable pain while his boat was towed to safety.
He was then forced to endure a long, arduous and terrifying swim to one of the rock walls at the river mouth, despite the coastguard returning and spotting him.
The experienced fisherman said he pleaded with the coastguard volunteers to help him but inexplicably they did not even throw him something inflatable to hang onto.
He says they merely watched him swim to safety as people on the rock wall urged him on.
"They had a spotlight dead bang in my eyes," the father-of-one said.
"I was thinking, 'Why wouldn't you throw me something inflatable?'."
Commander John Annabell said he was restricted in what he could say about the rescue because an inquiry into the incident would likely be held.
"Our vessel skipper is very experienced and I would find what the guy is saying rather surprising," he said.