Stabbed by stingray, dragged under: Teen's amazing survival
A YOUNG Coast lifesaver has heroically won a tug-of-war to save his mate from drowning after he was pierced through the leg by the barb of a stingray.
The touch-and-go rescue at off Boiling Point, Noosa National Park, on Monday by 18-year-old Robert "RJ" Lemon of his 17-year-old friend Sam White, saw him fight to prevent the still-attached ray from dragging him under the water.
This gripping struggle, which occurred when a spearfishing outing turned nasty around 1pm, is being hailed by veteran lifesaver Byron Mills as so amazing he's never heard of anything like it before.
RJ, who does maintenance work at Noosa surf club, first saw splashing an heard yelling about 80m off the shore and realised his friend, who had gone into the water ahead of him, was in real distress.
"My initial thought was Sam may have speared himself or speared a something very large and potentially dangerous," RJ said.
"I dove off the rocks in my board shorts and started swimming as fast as I could.
"I noticed that there was a lot of blood in the water. I now feared that there may have been a shark in the area, or worse Sam may well have been attacked."
But the actual situation was no better than those grim scenarios and in fact was partly a combination of the two - his mate had been speared by a ray which RJ said "was connected to Sam's leg".
"The barb had gone through Sam's leg from one side to the other and the stingray was alive, trying to swim away, pulling Sam under the water," RJ said.
"I noticed that Sam had speared the stingray and the stingray was still connected to the spear and was also pulling on Sam's leg.
"I held the spear and Sam above the water as the spear was still attached to the stingray, so the stingray wouldn't drag him under."
RJ told Sam to stick his fingers through the stingrays eyes and mouth to prevent it from trying to swim away.
"Each movement from the stingray was causing Sam excruciating pain and severe bleeding."
Fuelled by adrenalin the two young men eventually fought their way back to rocks and Milo, a friend of Sam's on the rocks helped pull him onto land with the stingray.
"I noticed a (park) ranger walking nearby who approached us in the rock pool," RJ said.
While the ranger called for paramedics, Robert removed the stingray tail with a Stanley knife to limit the damage to the leg caused by the ray's thrashing about.
"Milo and I carried Sam from the rock pool to the pathway where we were met by the paramedics."
RJ said he reacting the way he did was "what we're trained to do as lifesavers"
"When I saw someone in trouble, I was always going to go straight in no matter if it was a friend or not," he said.
Sam was rushed to hospital after the bleeding was stemmed for further treatment to remove the barb and was resting at home after the barb deflected off bone and cause no serious tendon damage.