A FATHER has spoken about how he was forced to tread water for SIX hours while holding his limp seven-year-old son in order to save the pair after their boat capsized.
Julian Hohnen and his dad Maike, 39, were on a weekend fishing trip off Australia’s Queensland coast when they were left stranded in the sea and nine miles from shore.
As Maike and a family friend desperately waited for rescue crews to arrive, they took turns to hold Julian above the water.
Without life jackets on board, the men searched for something they could cling on to, to keep them afloat.
But after six hours of treading open water in the darkness, Julian began to succumb to the cold and began to swallow water.
Mr Hohnen spoke to Daily Mail Australia, saying: “To watch him deteriorate and start speaking less and less was terrifying.
“He was basically lifeless and I was trying to talk to him. His arms around my neck cramped up and I could put him in whatever position I wanted to.”
Eventually the trio were spotted in the water by a tanker which was anchored off-shore and all three were rescued just before 8am.
The group were winched to safety and immediately rushed to hospital for treatment for hypothermia in June.
However, Julian appeared “lifeless” and needed to be resuscitated in the helicopter and placed in an induced coma.
It was thought Julian may already have suffered severe brain damage but he made a recovery – even using a toy rod his father made him to pretend to fish in the paediatric ward.
The relieved father said: “I am just so blessed and glad that Julian is fine.
“I couldn’t forgive myself if something happened to him. If he stopped breathing, I would have let go of the boat.”
He added: “He can not wait to get back out in the open water and cast a line in search of the next big catch.”
IN A COMA
Queensland Ambulance Service senior operations supervisor Kristy MacAlister said: “It is very lucky that all three were found alive this morning.
“He was suffering from hypothermia because he had been in the water for quite some time.
“It is always a delicate operation when you’re winching a patient that’s potentially suffering from hypothermia because, as you winch them out of the water, the wind temperature can also decrease the body temperature further.”
The two men were taken back to shore by marine rescue and are also in hospital suffering from hypothermia.
Ian Hunt from Rotary Rescue told ABC News: “[When] you have kids of your own, you always feel for the situation, so it’s really gratifying to know that they were found and that we played some part in finding them.”
In total nine boats contributed to the six-hour search for the missing people.
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Coastguard Caloundra volunteer deputy commander Kevin Wager told the Sunshine Coast Daily: “The three hadn’t drifted very far we think, but it is quite difficult to pick people up in the water, the conditions were really choppy.”
He added: “The water temperature was about 21C, so not freezing but it would not have been good for a child. Thankfully it had a good outcome.”
The boat is yet to be recovered.
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