Best mates dig deep to save injured dad after boat smashed by “freak” wave at Horrocks Beach

Michael RobertsGeraldton Guardian
Best mates Toby Emmett and Geoff Tozer.
Camera IconBest mates Toby Emmett and Geoff Tozer.

Teenagers Toby Emmett and Geoff Tozer will never forget the day a routine cray fishing trip at picturesque Horrocks Beach turned ugly.

They were heading out through the Horrocks reef gap last year in July when a “freak” wave suddenly towered over the boat.

“It was a straight vertical wall of water about 4m high,” Geoff told The Geraldton Guardian.

“We had nowhere to go.”

The boat hit the wave head-on, with the sea vessel lifted up into the air and crashing back on to the water.

Geoff’s dad, Mick, broke his leg in 11 places when the swell hit — leaving the two 16-year-old mates from the South West with just moments to come up with a plan to get back to shore.

“It all happened so quickly,” Geoff said.

“We heard dad’s leg snap and he just told me we had to go in.”

Geoff grabbed the wheel of the boat and steered them back through the reef gap and into the bay.

Toby stood by Mick’s side offering comfort and reassurance.

“I was trying to keep Geoff’s dad awake because he was passing in and out of consciousness because of the pain,” Toby said.

“We couldn’t get the boat quite close enough to the beach so I helped Mick drag himself off the back of the boat.”

Toby helped Geoff’s dad wade back to shore, but struggled to lift the heavy man up on to dry sand.

In a feat of ingenuity, the boys then fetched their four-wheel-drive and found a sheet of plastic to put under Mick, using the vehicle’s snatch strap to pull him out of the whitewash and further up the beach.

Other bystanders joined in to help until an ambulance arrived about 30 minutes later.

Horrocks Beach.
Camera IconHorrocks Beach. Credit: Sharon Smith/The West Australian

The two teenagers will today be recognised for their courage and determination at the 2021 Royal Life Saving Bravery Awards, with the pair taking home a framed certificate and gold-plated medallion.

Humbled by the award, Toby said all the bystanders who helped out on the day deserved recognition.

“We have learnt an extreme lesson in how to respond in an incident like that,” he said.

“It’s a weird emotion to describe, but I do feel thankful we could help and were there at the time to give Mick a hand.

“I’m just happy Geoff’s dad is safe and on the mend.”

Geoff said Mick had just started to drive again after being in a wheelchair for 11 months, and was getting closer to having full movement again.

“I feel honoured by the award, but what we did in the moment we only did out of instinct,” he said.

“I’d like the opportunity to catch up with some of the people on the beach who helped us because they played a huge part.”

The close mates said they had forged an even stronger bond after the rescue.

“We are pretty much inseparable,” Geoff said.

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