Dramatic Christmas Eve ocean rescue saves local woman’s life

Suzanne AstonBusselton Dunsborough Times
The woman is transferred to a waiting ambulance.
Camera IconThe woman is transferred to a waiting ambulance. Credit: Marine Rescue Busselton

A dramatic ocean rescue has unfolded off Busselton Jetty with a middle aged woman carried more than 3km out to sea on a child’s inflatable boat.

The RAC Rescue helicopter and two boats from Marine Rescue Busselton were called in to search for local woman Kezzaray Gibson after she drifted away from shore near Busselton Jetty on Christmas Eve.

In a since deleted Facebook post, the former cleaner said she had “thought she was going to die” and was grateful to her rescuers.

Marine Rescue Busselton commander Peter Taylor said although the sea was calm at the time, a south-westerly wind was blowing the inflatable further away from shore.

“This would have been quite an ordeal for the lady on the small boat,” Mr Taylor said.

Having realised she was in danger, Ms Gibson had frantically attempted to signal for help by repeatedly waving an oar.

Responding to multiple 000 calls from people on the beach, police activated the RAC helicopter from Bunbury.

The Marine Rescue Busselton crew was alerted shortly before 8pm and their first boat, Rescue 2, was launched about 30 minutes later.

The RAC helicopter arrived on the scene at 8.35pm and began flying a search pattern in conjunction with the Marine Rescue Busselton vessels.

The helicopter crew soon located the stricken inflatable about 1.5km north-east of the 1.8km Busselton Jetty and were able to direct the Rescue 2 boat towards Ms Gibson.

Arriving at the location of the inflatable vessel, the Rescue 2 crew worked to bring her onboard, where they began treating her for hypothermia and called for an ambulance to meet them at shore.

Upon arriving back at their base about 10.30pm the Rescue 2 crew transferred the woman to the waiting ambulance which delivered her to the Busselton health campus and she was later released.

“This was a great result and I want to say a big thank you to the first responders, helicopter and boat crews, and police for their efforts in bringing what could have been a tragic outcome to a successful conclusion,” Mr Taylor said.

He said Marine Rescue Busselton was always looking for volunteers to work as first responders and support personnel. To learn more contract recruitment officer Graeme Woodthorpe on 0417 916 266.

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