Rescuers’ heroics gets fresh recognition

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Robbie Robertson, Colin Westerberg, Paddy Hart, Stephen Hart, Keith Richardson & Ches Stubbs.
Camera IconRobbie Robertson, Colin Westerberg, Paddy Hart, Stephen Hart, Keith Richardson & Ches Stubbs.

A new plaque to honour the heroics of Cheynes II crewmen as they saved a South Australian tourist off The Gap in 1978 has been installed at the platform.

The Department of Biodiver-sity, Conservation and Attractions replaced the old plaque last week in honour of the heroics of Cheynes II skipper Paddy Hart, his first mate Keith Richardson, the crew of the whaling boat and aircraft pilot John Bell.

“Not many people come back from falling off The Gap,” Mr Hart said as he recalled the incident.

The South Australian tourist, Stephen Matthews, had climbed down below the bridge when a king wave rolled in and sucked him into the water. He was in the water for nearly two hours before the 440t steam whale chaser Cheynes II got close enough to take him out of the water.

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“We took a sweep in there to get him but we were too far off him, so the first mate, Keith Richardson, tied a rope around his waist and dived in and grabbed him, and dragged him back on board,” Mr Hart said.

The town installed a plaque to commemorate the heroics on that day, but it was corroded over time.

“Lots of people have come to us over the years to say that it’s such a shame that they can no longer read the plaque,” Mr Hart said.

Mr Hart said he would also like to thank his crewmen individually for putting their lives at risk to saved another man’s life.

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