BRAVERY awards have been presented to a yacht crew who rescued sailors near Port Campbell and a man who pulled a trapped driver out of a crashed car at Beeac.
Brighton sailors Grant Dunoon, Klaus-Peter Fecht, Ross Fisher and Kim Walker received a group bravery citation for rescuing six sailors from a sunken yacht off Port Campbell in April last year.
Beeac’s Matthew Howard received a bravery medal after helping rescue a man from a burning motor vehicle near his home on July 28, 2009.
Australian Governor-General Quentin Bryce yesterday awarded 62 medals, commendations and citations as part of the 38th anniversary of the Australian honours system, which recognises outstanding achievement and service in national life.
The group bravery citation was awarded to the crew of the yacht TryBooking.com, who rescued sailors from a another racing yacht after it struck trouble during the Melbourne to Port Fairy ocean race last year.
About midnight on April 7 last year, TryBooking.com and other yachts were experiencing the effects of a strong weather front with winds up to 45 knots and six-metre swells.
The yacht Inception had taken on water and sunk about seven nautical miles off the coast of Port Campbell.
Inception’s six crew members tied themselves together and, wearing flotation devices and emergency beacons, drifted in the heavy sea waiting to be rescued.
Rescuer Ross Fisher said yesterday the yacht race was struck by a horrific storm.
“We got the message a boat was in trouble and then 10 minutes later we were told it had sunk and there were six people in the water,” he said yesterday.
“We conducted a grid pattern search and had quite a lot of difficulty locating them.
‘‘We were pleased to find them but not nearly as pleased as they were to see us.
‘‘They had been able to see us but we couldn’t see them.”
Mr Fisher said he and his crewmates had a lot of difficulty getting the stricken sailors on board in the rescue operation which took about two hours.
“They were absolutely ecstatic to be rescued,” he said.
One of the guys was only minutes from death.
‘‘He had given up.
Mr Howard received a bravery medal after he noticed the headlights of a vehicle through his rear vision mirror suddenly disappear, followed by a long flash of light.
After turning around to investigate, Mr Howard discovered that the vehicle had left the road, collided with a power pole and caught fire.
He called 000 but with flames appearing around the motor and windscreen of the crashed vehicle, and a power line dangling nearby, he took immediate action.
Assisted by two passers-by, Mr Howard pried open the door of the vehicle and worked to free the driver, who was conscious but trapped.
The men managed to free the driver’s foot and dragged him to safety by the side of the road until emergency services arrived.