Fishing trip turns to tragedy
TRAGEDY struck on a weekend fishing trip at Coconut Creek south-east of Koumala when a Mackay man died after falling from a boat into a creek.
The situation escalated on Saturday when friends rushed to their camp site to call for help only to discover the site and a motor vehicle had been destroyed by a fire.
The man had been with three friends aged 86, 77 and 51 - they had been fishing out of two boats in different sections of the creek, near Ince Bay, when the man fell overboard sometime between 2pm and 3pm on Saturday.
Searchers found the 74-year-old's body about 11am yesterday in the upper reaches of the creek among mangroves, police district duty officer senior sergeant Dave Parnell said.
It was believed he had been throwing an anchor onto a bank in an attempt to pull the boat closer to help free his 86-year-old friend, who became stuck in mud after hopping overboard to untangle the motor, Senior Sergeant Mark Sweetnam said.
The man remained stuck until he was rescued by the two in the second boat about 4pm.
The group were unable to find the 74-year-old, who did not resurface after falling overboard, and returned to the camp site on a private property about one kilometre away to raise the alarm.
However, the site and a motor vehicle, had been destroyed by a fire, Snr Sgt Sweetnam said.
Firefighters contained the blaze on Saturday, but it continued to cause spot fires yesterday and the Rural Fire Brigade had to be called out.
Police were joined by SES volunteers, the Whitsunday Water Police and the RACQ-CQ Rescue helicopter to search for the man late Saturday, but had to stop about midnight because of the tide.
The search was resumed first thing yesterday morning.
There are no suspicious circumstances surrounding this incident.
Police will prepare a report for the coroner.