Matty Johns, Greg Bird, Mat Rogers in brush with death
- Sport Confidential with Tyson Otto
- From: The Daily Telegraph
- December 22, 2010 12:00AM
RETIRED league star Mat Rogers and cyclist Robbie McEwen were last night being hailed as heroes after saving a man who fell off the back of a boat when potentially lethal carbon monoxide fumes filled their boat 400m out to sea off the Gold Coast.
Rogers, McEwen, NRL and Channel 7 identity Matthew Johns and Titans star utility Greg Bird were among a group of nine people travelling back to the Gold Coast from Stradbroke Island on a hired 30-foot motor yacht in the lead-up to the Mat Rogers Celebrity Golf Classic to raise funds for Rogers’ 4ASD Kids charity.
But the passengers were inhaling the undetectable gas from exhaust fumes building up in the boat and six of the nine on board, including Johns and Bird, collapsed.
One man, who was standing at the back of the boat, fell over the railing when he became disoriented and lost consciousness.
Despite being badly disoriented himself, Rogers was the first to dive into the water after the man. He was followed quickly by McEwen, whose high-altitude training experience made him less susceptible to the fumes.
The pair made sure to keep the unconscious man’s head above water and were able to drag him back into the boat.
“They deserve a big wrap,” Johns said yesterday.
"Mat reckons his head was spinning when he hit the water, but it didn’t stop him.
“It was amazing. He might have saved that guy’s life. Actually, he did save that guy’s life.”
The boat made it safely back to shore, where all nine on board were treated by paramedics.
Six of those, including the man who fell overboard, were taken to hospital and later discharged.
But the drama could have been much worse - a large group of children was due to travel on Rogers’ boat but at the last minute was moved to one of the other two boats used in the excursion.
Rogers said it was the scariest moment of his life and was extremely apologetic to everyone caught up in the drama…
The golf event raised nearly $200,000 for the charity, which supports treatment options for children with autism.
McEwen, who suffered a severe headache when he returned to shore, downplayed his role in the heroic rescue. “It was a dramatic boat ride, for sure, but it all turned out OK, which is the main thing,” he said.