Spear fisher struck by boat propeller claims damages

A QUEENSLAND man has been awarded more than $675,000 in damages after a boat struck him while he was spear fishing in the waters off Cape Moreton.

Jacques Du Pradal, 71, sustained serious and life-threatening injuries as a result of the incident on June 29, 2008, near a popular fishing and diving spot located in waters about 60km south-east of the Sunshine Coast.

His injuries included kidney, pancreas, spleen, spine, lower limb and minor brain damage as a result of the boat's propeller striking him.

The Brisbane Supreme Court heard, during a six-day hearing in June, that David Petchell was navigating the boat that struck Mr Du Pradal on the day of the incident.

Mr Petchell denied liability for the accident and claimed Mr Du Pradal's own negligence contributed to the incident.

The court heard that Mr Du Pradal was an experienced diver and had being diving in the area for the past two decades.

He had only been in the water for about eight minutes when the accident occurred.

GPS data downloaded from Mr Petchell's boat as part of the investigation revealed it was travelling above the speed limit in the area.

An expert told the court he had concluded the boat was travelling at 13 miles per hour, about 20kmh or 11.3 knots, when it struck Mr Du Pradal based on the digital speed recording shortly before impact.

Justice Debra Mullins, in awarding Mr Du Pradal $675,203 in damages, was scathing of Mr Petchell's actions.

In her judgment, handed down this week, she said Mr Petchell made a number of mistakes in the manner in which he drove his boat.

"He was ignorant that he was in the vicinity of a popular dive spot," she said.

"He saw the orange dive float to which Mr Du Pradal was attached at a sufficient distance to enable him to navigate a path that took him well clear of the dive float and the attached diver, but failed to do so."


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