A second man — the skipper of the boat — was transferred to the hospital in stable condition
One man is dead and another is hospitalized after a whale reportedly struck and capsized their boat in Sydney, Australia on Saturday morning, The Guardian reported.
Around 6 a.m. local time, New South Wales (NSW) water police responded to reports of a boat “doing laps without anybody onboard” and two individuals in the water, per the outlet.
NSW police said that one of the men, 61, was unconscious upon arrival. After he was taken out of the water, attempts to revive the man were unsuccessful, and he was declared deceased, per The Guardian.
With help from witnesses, the second man and skipper of the boat, 53, was transferred to a nearby ramp where he was treated by paramedics, according to the outlet. When his condition was stable, he was transported to the hospital.
The boat was recovered and will undergo forensic testing, per CNN.
According to The Guardian, police were informed that the men’s boat was likely struck or otherwise impacted by a whale breaching, thus tilting the vessel and causing the men to go overboard.
Siobhan Munro, acting superintendent of the NSW water police, got firsthand information about the collision from an initial interview with the skipper, who was in shock, per the outlet.
“Early reports are that a whale may have breached near the boat or on to the boat,” she told reporters.
According to her, the two men could have been in the water for up to 45 minutes.
“The skipper stayed as close as he could to the deceased and was doing all he could to keep him afloat until police arrived,” Munro said.
It is not clear yet which species of whale was involved in the collision, but Munro did say that there are currently more whales than usual in Australian waters, per The Guardian.
“Right now there are lots of whales out there,” she told reporters following the incident. “It’s not unheard of, these stories of whales breaching next to boats.”
Jihad Dib, the NSW minister for emergency services, called the collision an "absolute freak accident,” and NSW Minister for Police Yasmin Catley dubbed it a "terribly tragic accident,” The Guardian reported.
“It’s very early stages and there is very little detail … at this point in time,” Catley said at a press conference. “We understand that one person is deceased, and our deepest condolences go to that deceased person’s family."
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According to CNN, the incident took place on the first day of National Safe Boating Week in Australia, and one of the initiative’s primary focuses is lifejackets.
It is unclear if the two men were wearing floatation gear, the outlet reported.
“It’s a stark reminder about the boating season and how dangerous it can be on our waterways,” Munro said of the incident, per CNN.
The acting superintendent also assured reporters that authorities will "be out there on the waterways, including rivers [and] dams, conducting compliance checks, drug and alcohol testing and all the things that we do to make sure that the community is safe."
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