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Photo by The Weekly Advertiser - PAUL CARRACHER

Wimmera accidental Heros

Wimmera accidental Heros

Photo by The Weekly Advertiser - PAUL CARRACHER

Wimmera teenagers accidental heroes in Shelly Beach coast rescue

By SARAH MATTHEWS

A Melbourne mother plans to nominate three Wimmera teenagers for a bravery award after their ‘heroic’ actions saved her son’s life following a spearfishing accident at Lorne.

Haven’s Makeali Clarke, 18, her brother Jackson, 16, and his girlfriend Ebony Hudd, 16, of Brim, were enjoying a day trip to Shelly Beach last week when they saw two men struggling against the rocks.

Elwood’s Helen Van Ravenstein said her son Brayden, 26, and his cousin Brandon Ortega, were spearfishing during a visit to Lorne when they hit trouble.

She said although she was still waiting to confirm some details with her son, she knew Brayden was lucky to be alive.

“From what I understand the sea was calm that day and Brayden and his cousin got out of the water on to the rocks,” she said.

“A freak wave came and Brayden was knocked into the water. The gun went off and the spear pierced his body. He got himself halfway up onto the rocks and his cousin helped him. Thankfully, this lovely family came along.

“If it wasn’t for the boys in particular, Brayden wouldn’t be here.”

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Jackson said he was the first to reach Mr Van Ravenstein.

“He was stuck between the rocks and had stabbed himself with his speargun,” he said.

“He couldn’t move – he was in shock and the tide was coming in.”

Ebony said the five rescuers, which also included Mr Ortega and the Clarkes’ grandfather, Gary White, helped move Mr Van Ravenstein to a safer position.

“Jackson sort of dropped Brayden on top of me and I was putting pressure onto his wound. I’d never done anything like that before, I kind of just jumped into ‘mum mode’.

“Jackson kept holding his hand and kept talking to him to make sure he was functioning. He asked him questions.”

Life or death

Makeali said because of the life-or-death-nature of the incident, Mr Van Ravenstein needed to be airlifted to hospital.

“The helicopter landed on the rocks on the beach,” she said.

“They don’t do that often – we have been to that beach a lot and they always land at the helipad.

“The other guy, Brandon, needed to call Brayden’s mum, and he used Mum’s phone, so they’ve kept in contact with us, which is pretty cool.”

Jackson and Makeali’s mother, Nichola Clarke, who was also on scene, said she was incredibly proud of the teenagers.

“When they were helping Brayden from the rocks, it was extremely slippery with the seaweed and the waves crashing around them,” she said.

“They battled with his weight with a water-filled wetsuit and full diving gear. The diver pulled out the spear and they all yelled, ‘No!’, but it was too late, there was blood everywhere.

“The kids were covered in blood and water but they went into action. They put him on his side so he could breathe and loosened his wetsuit. Jackson took off his T-shirt and Ebony put pressure on the stab wound for 45 minutes before the paramedics arrived.”

Mrs Clarke said the spear pierced three parts of Mr Van Ravenstein’s bowel along with an artery in his right leg.

“He was taken to The Alfred hospital and had three blood transfusions and two operations,” she said.

“The surgeon said if it wasn’t for the young adults doing what they did, it would be a very different story.

“I am so proud of these kids doing what they did and watching how well they worked together as a team, talking to Brayden the whole time and trying to keep him awake by holding his hand and willing him to live.”

Mrs Van Ravenstein said her son was now in recovery.

“He is in absolute agony, but he is improving, so we can’t complain,” she said.

She said the teenagers deserved recognition for saving her son’s life and would look into nominating them for a bravery award.

Jackson said despite the accolades, he did not consider himself a hero.

“We were there at the right time, at the right place to help,” he said.

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