Aroona’s Harrison Kennedy 14, and Mitchel Vansleve, 16 (inset), rescued Gympie man Bill Sprenger at the La Balsa boat ramp yesterday. Mr Sprenger’s brakes failed and his car, boat and trailer rolled off the ramp into deep water (background).
Aroona’s Harrison Kennedy 14, and Mitchel Vansleve, 16 (inset), rescued Gympie man Bill Sprenger at the La Balsa boat ramp yesterday. Mr Sprenger’s brakes failed and his car, boat and trailer rolled off the ramp into deep water (background). Contributed

Man rescued from sinking vehicle

ONE slip, and fisherman Bill Sprenger’s four-wheel-drive went straight to the bottom yesterday morning as he tried to back his boat down a boat ramp.

And water police praised Sunshine Coast teenagers who dived in and pulled the 67-year-old Gympie man from his sinking vehicle.

Harrison Kennedy, 14, and 16-year-old Mitchel Vansleve were about to head out to go snorkelling with Harrison’s dad, Tony.

They were out and about because Coast schools were having a pupil-free day.

Tony and the boys, from Aroona, had just launched their boat at the La Balsa Park, Buddina.

Next in line was Mr Sprenger, a retired policeman who lives at Gympie.

“I’ve done it (backed down a boat ramp) 500 times before,” Mr Sprenger said last night.

“I’m not sure what happened this time – the brakes may have failed.”

Tony said as Mr Sprenger backed his boat toward the Mooloolah River, the boat trailer seemed to jack-knife.

“The vehicle went straight in,” he said.

“I couldn’t believe it.”

Harrison and Mitchel, who were on their boat, immediately dived in and helped Mr Sprenger out of his car’s partly-opened window.

“I was all right – but I thanked the young blokes who helped me,” he said.

The accident happened shortly after 10am.

Water police and the fire brigade attended.

“It was a potentially very dangerous situation,” a police spokesman said late yesterday.

Maroochydore Towing’s Steve Chetcuti later hooked up the four-wheel-drive and towed it out.

“It was entirely submerged by the time I got there,” he said.

“It’d have to be a write-off after going into salt water, I’d say.”

The vehicle, which was insured, was retrieved about 11.40am.

Yesterday afternoon Mr Sprenger was back in Gympie, after a mate picked him up and drove him home.

“I’m about to have a cuppa – and then maybe something a little stronger,” he said.

Mr Sprenger said the accident would not dent his interest in fishing, though.

“We’ve always had boats – this one is our fifth – and I’m a keen fisherman. I’ll be out there again as soon as I can.

“It’s just something that happens – the most important thing is that I’m fine.”

Gympie Times


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