Skipper 'terribly sorry' -- Tweed man talks to the media from hospital bed

TWEED Heads man Matthew Reynolds has told southern media that he is "terribly sorry" for the six lives lost in last Thursday's Sydney Harbour boat tragedy.

In a surprise move Mr Reynolds, 31, spoke to a News Limited reporter in Sydney about the accident in which an overcrowded runabout and a fishing trawler collided, killing six people.

Among those killed was 32-year-old Ashlei Ayres, understood to be Mr Reynolds' girlfriend.

Mr Reynolds, well known in the Tweed's boating community and whose father Charlie Reynolds runs Tweed Fishing Charters, has been recovering from spinal injuries in Royal North Shore Hospital since the accident and is believed to have only briefly spoken to police.

However, he spoke to a reporter over the weekend, saying how sorry he was about the loss of lives in the accident and praising the staff at the hospital for their hard work.

"I'm so terribly sorry," a distraught Matthew Reynolds said in the report. "I'm emotionally very upset ... I'm so terribly sorry that six lives have been lost.

"I'm in a lot of pain but the staff here at Royal North Shore Hospital have been fantastic to me and I'm very appreciative of everything the doctors and nurses have done."

Since the interview hit the stands police are believed to be keen to renew talks with Mr Reynolds. It is understood officers will ask Mr Reynolds how the group came to be aboard the runabout, given its owner had not given permission for its use.

Charlie Reynolds, a former Point Danger Volunteer Marine Rescue operations chief, travelled to Sydney last week to be at his son's bedside. Mr Reynolds and another survivor, 18-year-old Chloe Dickey, were visited in hospital in recent days by three fishermen who were first on the scene to rescue people from the water.

Miss Dickey was released from hospital on Sunday afternoon. "I'm very appreciative of the fishermen who rendered assistance and who came to see me," Mr Reynolds said in his interview. "They are truly wonderful men and it was a very emotional event to speak to them."

The five who died at the scene of the collision have been named as Jessica Holloway, 25, Alex Rumiz, 22, Stacey Wright, 21, Elizabeth (Lizzie) Holder, 20, and Ayres. Alex Nikakis, 29, died in hospital on Thursday night as a result of severe brain injuries.

The funeral of Stacey Wright, who would have celebrated her 22nd birthday this week, is being held in Wollongong today.



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