A man who described himself as the “luckiest man alive” has more reasons to be thankful after his son survived six hours at sea waiting to be rescued from a sinking boat off the Queensland coast.
Seven-year-old Julian Hohnen was winched to safety about 2.30am on Sunday after the boat sank, pitching him, his father and another man into the sea off Caloundra.
Elimbah truck driver Maike Hohnen, 38, his young son and family friend Stephen Jeacocke, 48, spent six hours in the water.
The men took turns to keep Julian afloat while clinging to debris from the vessel.
All three suffered hypothermia.
Julian remains in the Queensland Children’s Hospital in Brisbane, where his condition improved from critical to stable on Monday afternoon.
A major rescue operation was launched before dawn on Sunday, after a distress call from the 5.2-metre (17-foot) vessel which had begun taking on water 14km off the coast.
The crew of an anchored tanker spotted the trio and helped guide authorities to their location.
The boy was winched into a helicopter and taken to the Sunshine Coast University Hospital before being taken to Brisbane for treatment.
Hohnen and Jeacocke were rescued by water police and have been released from the hospital.
Paramedics say help arrived just in time, but that the boy’s helicopter rescue could have made his condition worse.
“They were they’re all very lucky,” Queensland Ambulance Service supervisor Kristy MacAlister said.
“It’s always a delicate operation when you’re winching a patient that’s potentially suffering from hypothermia because as you winch them out of the water the wind temperature can also decrease the body temperature further.”
On social media, Hohnen described himself as the luckiest man alive prior to the incident.
“I’ve got a beautiful son, who puts a smile on my face every day,” he wrote.
The keen fisherman also posted photos of the pair fishing.