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Sydney Harbour collision rescuers awarded

When old buddies Nasser Farache and Samar Owech took to Sydney Harbour in their blue tinny on an April night in 2008, it was dark, calm and quiet.

But hours later the pair would be stepping over bleeding, dead bodies, desperately trying to save those aboard an overloaded ‘runabout’ that had been speared by a trawler.

The duo are among the Australians who will be recognised for their courageous acts in the 2020 Australian Bravery Awards.

But Nasser Farache says it wasn’t bravery that drove them to race towards the scene of the accident off Bradley’s Point, but instinct.

They followed the screams, and were able to pluck one survivor out of the water.

Mr Farache then climbed aboard the badly damaged 23-footer that was drifting “dangerously close” to the rocks.

“I just saw bodies just all over the floor. There was a total of 14 people on the boat, I think about half of them had died in the collision,” he told AAP.

Some of those who had survived the initial collision were begging for someone to help their friends, he said.

“I remember one of them who was still alive at the time that we reached him. He was like bleeding heavily from the head – half his skull was practically missing.”

Autopilot kicked in, and Mr Farache went from person to person, attempting CPR while emergency services rushed to the scene.

“I tried to revive six or seven. I went straight from one to the next one, to the next one, to the next one.”

“I didn’t know I was trying to revive dead people.”

Six people – four women and two men – aboard the smaller boat would die as a result of the horrific collision in the early hours of May 1. Eight other people on the same boat were injured.

Mr Farache and Mr Owech went to their funerals, and comforted their families.

“It sort of felt like we were part of it and we lost something as well,” Mr Farache told AAP.

Over a decade on, Mr Farache says he appreciates the recognition of his actions that night, but would rather not be accepting an award.

“It goes without saying – saving any of them would have meant a lot more to me than any piece of paper.”

Mr Farache and Mr Oweck will be awarded a Group Bravery Citation by Governor-General David Hurley, alongside 27 other Australians also being recognised for their courage.

“The people receiving awards didn’t wake up in the morning and decide that they would be brave – each was faced with an unexpected situation and made a conscious choice, in the moment, to turn towards the danger and help others,” Governor-General David Hurley said in a statement congratulating the awardees.

Among the other recipients are Billy Eitz, who swam a bleeding shark attack victim back to shore in 2016, and Callum Hall, who died trying to save a friend from the path of an oncoming train in 2016.

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