A Southern 80 crash which saw an observer thrown from his boat and smash into a pylon was one of three within minutes of each other on Sunday.By Trent Horneman
A Melbourne man recalled how Aaron Martin, an observer of inboard expert class boat Sportspage, flew through the air and smashed into a wooden pylon as the boat careered into the bank near Pianta Rd, Echuca, during yesterday’s Southern 80 ski race.
Alan Brown, of Mill Park, watched on with about 30 other spectators at Rivergum Caravan Park, when he saw the boat lose control and slam into a jetty.
Mr Brown said he heard the driver scream ‘‘eject’’ moments before the crash.
‘‘The driver got out into the water safely, but as the observer was flying through the air he hit the wooden post and his body just wrapped around it,’’ he said.
Mr Brown said spectators rushed to the man’s aid, keeping him afloat in the water until ambulance crews arrived.
‘‘We rushed down to the water to make sure everyone was all right. We tried to keep him afloat in the water, but we had to move him, because fuel was spilling out of the boat,’’ he said.
‘‘We heard that the boat had lost its steering. The driver killed the engine in an attempt to slow down, but when you are going that fast there is not much the driver could have done.
‘‘I heard the driver scream out ‘‘eject’’.
‘‘The wives of the crew were staying just around the corner, thank God they did not see it.’’
Country Fire Authority, Police and Ambulance crews rushed to the scene.
The crash was one of three within minutes of each other, which brought racing to a halt at 1.48pm, after the main super class event.
The race was stopped for an hour as emergency crews attended to Mr Martin.
John Mullen from Rural Ambulance Victoria said Mr Martin had multiple leg fractures and was airlifted to Melbourne’s Alfred Hospital in a serious but stable condition.
A skier from super class boat Hellbent was treated for a leg injury suffered during the race, while open women’s class boat Revival caught fire due to a mechanical failure and sunk, leaving the driver Lance Heathcote and observer Bradley Johnson with minor burns to hands and feet.
Echuca’s Chelsea Blight was skiing behind Revival at the time of the accident.
Mr Mullen confirmed a 49-year-old man was taken to Echuca hospital in a serious but stable condition with burns to his hands.
Racing was also stopped on Saturday afternoon as Grant Turner, skiing behind super class boat Blazen, suffered head and spinal injuries after an accident during the Bakers Blitz.
He was airlifted to the Royal Melbourne Hospital where he remained yesterday in a serious but stable condition.
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