RACQ CQ Rescue was tasked to three search and rescue missions in just 24 hours on March 15.
On March 14, the Mackay-based chopper was requested to assist Queensland Police in the search for a missing man after his boat was found unoccupied at the mouth of Murray Creek, north of Mackay, about 6.30pm.
The helicopter flew at 100 feet up and down the creek for about two hours before locating the man’s body about one kilometre from his boat.
About 9am on March 15, the rescue helicopter was asked to assist in another search near Mid Molle for a potential man overboard after an empty boat was found with the motor still running. The helicopter was en route to the scene when the search was called off as the missing person had been located by a nearby jetskier.
The helicopter had not long returned to base when at 11am the Australian Maritime Safety Authority tasked RACQ CQ Rescue to conduct a search after an EPIRB was activated by a registered six-metre vessel near Fairey Reef, about 100km offshore.
The CQ Rescue crew refuelled the aircraft at Hamilton Island en route to the beacon’s location which was a 25-minute flight time from Hamilton Island.
Upon arrival at the location, smoke flares could be seen by the helicopter crew.
Unable to communicate with the vessel via radio, the RACQ CQ Rescue rescue crewman was winched down into the water and swam across to the small boat to find two occupants, both men in their mid 30s. They were anchored, surrounded by reef and unable to see land.
Both men were in good health but their vessel had broken down earlier in the morning and they had no radio communication, hence they made the decision to activate the EPIRB onboard.
After the rescue crewman was winched back up into the aircraft, the vessel’s location was then radioed to Volunteer Marine Rescue who were headed to the scene to assist with recovering the boat and its occupants.
A jet from Cairns provided overwatch for the helicopter during the mission and the winching of the rescue crewman.
RACQ CQ Rescue returned to base about 2.30pm only to be tasked to a hospital transfer from Collinsville about 3pm.