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Visitors witness fishermen flung from vessel at Hillarys Boat Harbour

A weekend fishing trip ended tragically when a man died after being flung from a dinghy in front of horrified visitors to Hillarys Boat Harbour this morning.

The man in his 40s was about to head out to sea with his friend about 7.30am when the pair lost control of their dinghy while it was still in gear, near the harbour entrance. Both men were flung from the dingy.

One man, also in his 40s, managed to swim to safety, but his friend was unable to escape and was struck in the head by the spinning propeller. He was pronounced dead on shore.

The shocking scene was seen by cafe patrons who had gathered at the busy harbour for breakfast.

Water Police Sgt Paul Crawshaw said the surviving man, who had hypothermia, was taken to Joondalup Hospital.Water Police Sgt Paul Crawshaw said the surviving man, who had hypothermia, was taken to Joondalup Hospital.
Camera IconWater Police Sgt Paul Crawshaw said the surviving man, who had hypothermia, was taken to Joondalup Hospital.Picture: Ross Swanborough / The West Australian

Northside cafe employee Logan Mitchell, 21, said a customer had seen the out-of-control dinghy spinning in the harbour.

“Two men had flown off it and that’s when it got really out of control,” Ms Mitchell told The West Australian. “It’s hard to work out how something like this happens, especially on a day like today. It’s so calm out there.”

A family that lives on a boat near where the accident unfolded said they knew something had gone “terribly wrong” when they saw Sea Rescue “scream past”.

More than two hours after the incident unravelled, cafe-goers watched in shock as an entourage of grim-faced police wheeled a dead man’s body past their tables.

A man in his 40s was about to head out to sea with his friend when the tragedy occurred.A man in his 40s was about to head out to sea with his friend when the tragedy occurred.
Camera IconA man in his 40s was about to head out to sea with his friend when the tragedy occurred.Picture: Sarah Steger

Security guards helping police could be seen rushing to tables where children sat, warning parents of what they were about to see. “It’s horrible,” a cafe goer who asked not to be identified, said.

“One second you’re enjoying your brekkie and the next you’re sitting metres away from a man who’s lost his life.

“It’s very sad.”

Water Police Sgt Paul Crawshaw said the surviving man, who had hypothermia, was taken to Joondalup Hospital.

“(The survivor) is very upset, he’s in shock, naturally, a good friend has lost his life, so he’s receiving care and counselling,” he said.

Neither of the men were wearing lifejackets, prompting Water Police to remind boat users to be vigilant, no matter how calm the conditions or how confident they are.

An investigation into the incident is under way.

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