A Point Danger VMR craft stands as a SES boat is towed to the water's edge by a 4WD on Letitia Spit on the northern end of Fingal yesterday morning.
A Point Danger VMR craft stands as a SES boat is towed to the water's edge by a 4WD on Letitia Spit on the northern end of Fingal yesterday morning. Tweed Daily News/Blainey Woodham

SES crews in river drama

AFTER four days helping people survive Tweed's savage storms, a crew of SES volunteers found themselves needing to be rescued when their boats broke down on the Tweed River yesterday.

Five of the 10 volunteers, including Tweed MP Geoff Provest's son Patrick, had to be taken to hospital with injuries following the early morning drama.

The 10 SES crew members were in three flood rescue boats on the Tweed River about 1.20am, surveying the threat of flooding to the Chinderah area due to abnormally high tides.

One vessel experienced mechanical problems, but when a second boat went to its aid it too got into strife.

"One of the FRBs (Flood Rescue Boats) suffered what is believed to be a mechanical failure, resulting in a second vessel going to its aid," a statement released by the SES said.

"While assisting, it is believed the propeller fouled causing this FRB to lose propulsion.

"The two boats drifted down-stream in the strong currents generated by the ebbing tide towards the mouth of the Tweed River."

The third crew attempted to help the others but decided, for their own safety, to head back to shore.

The two other boats eventually made it to the boat ramp at Chinderah, but after one crew member disembarked their boat was swamped and swept away.

Initial media reports suggested that four of the crew members attempted to swim to shore after their boats overturned, but the SES strongly denied this yesterday.

"No one had to swim to shore and the boats definitely did not capsize," a spokeswoman said.

Reports broadcast on ABC Radio yesterday afternoon that the second boat was found washed up on Burleigh Heads Beach were also refuted by the SES.


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