TRAWLER TRAGEDY: Police identify bodies retrieved from ocean floor

MONDAY, October 23, 5:00 PM | THE second body retrieved from the ocean floor following the tragic fishing trawler accident off the Queensland coast last week has been identified as 45-year-old Ben Leahy.

Police divers located Mr Leahy’s body, along with the body of Cairns father Adam Hoffman, 30, on Saturday.

Mr Leahy was the skipper of Fishing Vessel Dianne at the time it capsized off the central Queensland coast last Monday night. He, along with five of his mates, became trapped below deck when the boat sank to the seafloor.

Ben Leahy’s body was found on the bottom of the ocean on Saturday (Source: Supplied)

In a statement this afternoon, Mr Leahy’s family said the loss of their “beloved Ben” was “immeasurable”.

“The confirmation of the death of our beloved Ben has devastated our family and all his friends.

While his death is an immeasurable loss to us, we do feel so blessed to have had him in our lives. Ben’s unique character and personality will leave us with many cherished memories.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and loved ones of the fine young men still missing. We offer our heartfelt condolences to the family of the other young man also found.

We are so thankful for the miracle survival of Ruben. He is a truly remarkable young man.

We want to thank the professionals and volunteers for their tireless efforts during the initial search for the Dianne and the ongoing search for the missing crew. Their courage and dedication in these challenging circumstances has been immensely appreciated.

We want to specifically acknowledge the outstanding support we have received from the police and the people of the Gladstone area.

The outpouring of love and support from family, friends and the community at large during this terrible tragedy has been of much comfort to us and we are so grateful. Thank you.

Our beloved Ben is gone from our lives but forever in our hearts.” – Family Statement

The search continues for the bodies of the remaining crew members Eli Tonks, 39, Adam Bidner, 33, Chris Sammut, 34, and Zach Feeney, 28, who also died in the incident.

Ruben McDornan was the sole survivor of the tragedy. He was on deck when the boat flipped and spent hours clinging to the hull of the vessel before he was rescued by a couple on a passing boat.

MONDAY, October 23, 1:15 PM | POLICE have confirmed one of the two bodies retrieved from a sunken fishing vessel off the coast of Queensland over the weekend belongs to 30-year-old Adam Hoffman.

The Clifton Beach man’s body was one of two found by police divers in the wreckage on the ocean floor on Saturday.

He was of six men who became trapped below deck when the fishing trawler sank to the bottom of the ocean after capsizing in rough seas last Monday night. The search continues for four of his mates who remain unaccounted for.

The body of Clifton Beach father Adam Hoffman, 30, was one of the first two retrieved from the trawler on Saturday (Supplied)

Mr Hoffman’s family released a heartbreaking statement this morning, describing their father, son, and brother as “one in a million with a heart of gold”.

“Our hearts are broken to lose our beloved Adam. He was one in a million with a heart of gold. He loved what he did and loved his crew. He will always be remembered for his love of the ocean and adventurous spirit. He will forever be our beautiful pirate who went out doing what he loved.

For those who knew him he loved to laugh and was funny as hell. He had amazing energy, was fearless, courageous and was a genuine legend. To his family, he was our cherished brother who was kind, thoughtful, loving and would always tell it like it is. I do what I want.

He loved his family and friends. He leaves behind his beautiful 5-year-old daughter Evie who he loved more than anything in this world, his parents Ross and Suzanne along with his five sisters Melody, Heidi, Sally, Sarah, and Alicia.

The family are forever grateful to all those involved in the search and rescue/recovery and ask for privacy during this hard time.” – Family Statement

Mr Hoffman leaves behind his beautiful 5-year-old daughter Evie, parents Ross and Suzanne and five sisters Melody, Heidi, Sally, Sarah and Alicia.

His family has set up a GoFundMe page, with all money raised to be held in trust and put towards Evie’s future.

UPDATE MONDAY, October 23, 6.45am: POLICE will continue the search today for four fishermen, who remain missing after their boat capsized off the coast of Queensland last Monday.

Following days of searching, the vessel was finally located by sonar equipment, 30 metres below the water’s surface, about two nautical miles off Round Hill Headland on Friday afternoon.

Police confirmed the bodies of two men were retrieved from the trawler on Saturday afternoon, with four remaining outstanding.

Divers have since finished clearing the wreckage of the commercial fishing vessel, and despite a “painstaking and thorough search,” which involved the clearing of a large amount of debris, no further bodies were located inside, police revealed on Sunday.

“Work continues to formally identify the two men located inside the boat,” officers said.

Two police vessels will conduct a further sonar search in the area today, along with a fixed-wing aircraft which will conduct sweeps of the coast.

There will also be further land-based foot and vehicle patrols along the beach.

“Police are working hard to ensure the families of Adam Bidner, Zachary Feeney, Adam Hoffman, Ben Leahy, Chris Sammut and Eli Tonks can get some measure of closure,” Queensland Police said.

EARLIER @ 5:00PM SATURDAY | POLICE divers have recovered two bodies from a sunken fishing boat which capsized off the coast of Queensland on Monday, trapping six crewmen in the cabin.

“Dianne” capsized in waters off the small town of 1770 on Monday night. Following days of searching, the vessel was located by sonar equipment a little over two nautical miles off Round Hill Headland on Friday afternoon.

Police have confirmed the bodies of two men were retrieved from the trawler on Saturday afternoon, which lay upturned on the ocean floor, around 30 metres below the water’s surface.

“Poor visibility and debris have hampered recovery efforts and the operation has been a slow process and is expected to take some time,” police said in a statement.

“Specialist police divers are only able to remain underwater for 13 minutes and most of those 13 minutes have been spent removing debris from the wreckage.”

Water police will continue to guard the scene tonight and an exclusion zone of five nautical miles remains in place.

The recovery operation will recommence at first light tomorrow, depending on the weather.

Gold Coast man Chris Sammut, 34, is one of six mates feared killed in the tragedy.

Mr Sammut became trapped in the submerged cabin with Ben Leahy, 45, Adam Hoffman, 30, Eli Tonks, 39, Adam Bidner, 33, and Zach Feeney, 28.

The bodies retrieved from the seabed on Saturday afternoon are yet to be formally identified.

Fellow crewman, Ruben McDornan, managed to survive after spending hours clinging to the vessel’s hull before he was rescued by a couple on a passing boat.

UPDATE @ October 21, 6.30am: A recovery operation is underway off the central Queensland coast, after a four-day search effort located a capsized fishing trawler.

Police issued a release on Friday afternoon confirming the commercial vessel “Dianne” had been found.

“The vessel was detected by sonar approximately 2-3 nautical miles off Round Hill Headland,” Police said in a statement.

The boat overturned off Bustard Bay on Monday night, seemingly trapping six crewmen in the cabin.

The recovery operation is expected to find the bodies of Ben Leahy, 45, Adam Hoffman, 30, Eli Tonks, 39, Adam Bidner, 33, Zach Feeney, 28, and Gold Coast man Chris Sammut, 34.

Fellow crewman, Ruben McDornan, managed to survive by grabbing onto the vessel’s hull as she went down.

He spent hours clinging to it before he was rescued by a couple on a passing boat who heard his screams for help.

EARLIER @ October 19, 7.20am: THE desperate search for six men, missing at sea after their trawler capsized off the central Queensland coast, is entering its third day.

Ben Leahy, 45, Adam Hoffman, 30, Eli Tonks, 39, Adam Bidner, 33, Zach Feeney, 28, and Gold Coast man Chris Sammut, 34, were on a commercial fishing boat when it overturned in Bustard Bay near Middle Island on Monday night.

The sole known survivor, Ruben McDornan, managed to cling on to the vessel’s hull for hours before he was rescued when a couple on a passing boat heard his screams for help.

Police say today’s coordinated search will involve up to twelve water vessels, two helicopters, two fixed-wing aircraft, and numerous vehicles patrolling the shoreline in the search area.

They say weather conditions are still hindering search efforts, however, conditions are expected to improve around midday.

Police are appealing to any vessels in the search area to contact police if they have any information that may assist with the search.

Yesterday, the families of the missing men expressed their appreciation for the work that is currently being done in relation to the search, however, asked for “privacy and compassion during this extremely difficult time.”

Additional reporting by JAYDAN DUCK and SHANEE DOBESON.

Meat Kebab Wrap Gyro

Study finds over a third of vegetarians eat meat when drunk

It seems vegetarians enjoy tucking into a meaty kebab after having a few drinks!

A study of over 1,700 vegetarians in the U.K. found that 37 per cent of them eat meat ‘every time’ they’re drunk on a night out.

Twenty six per cent of vegetarians said they eat meat ‘fairly often’ when drunk, while 22 per cent said ‘rarely’ and 18 percent responded ‘occasionally’ in the study by Voucher Codes Pro.

Of all the vegetarians surveyed, 69 per cent said their drunk meat binges were a secret, while 31 per cent said they had told others of their meat eating ways.

Kebabs were revealed as the most popular meat dish vegetarians consume while drunk, with beef burgers, bacon, fried chicken and pork sausages coming in close behind.

Queensland set to trial new vaccine to treat head and neck cancers

A POTENTIALLY life-saving cancer vaccine developed by former Australian of the Year Immunologist Professor Ian Frazer will be trialled in Queensland, thanks to funding from the State Government.

Professor Frazer and Dr Jian Zhou first discovered a therapeutic vaccine for the human papillomavirus in 1990.

Now, thanks entirely to the help of Advance Queensland’s Ignite Ideas Fund, Professor Frazer will investigate the use of the vaccine in treating head and neck cancers.

Admedus Immunotherapies is working on demonstrating clinical proof of concept that the vaccine could potentially be used to treat the 600,000 new cases of all HPV-associated cancers recorded globally each year.

Professor Frazer said virus-associated cancers made up 20 percent of the cancer burden worldwide.

“Unfortunately, conventional treatments are not always successful,” Professor Frazer said.

“Harnessing the immune system is a new way to treat these virus-associated cancers.

“Our research is testing an exciting new approach to cancer treatment, by targeting virus proteins within the virus-associated cancers.

“The body’s defences against infection know how to fight viruses and can be taught to recognise and fight the virus components hiding within the cancer.”

Admedus Immunotherapies received $250,000 in Ignite Ideas funding to carry out a clinical trial of the new vaccine which is due to be completed by early 2019.

Admedus Immunotherapies CEO Neil Finlayson said the HPV vaccine had successfully treated tumours in mice.

Mr Finlayson said the next step was to carry out a clinical trial in Queensland before taking it forward into a larger study in partnership with a pharmaceutical company.

“Head and neck cancer is rising in incidence, and while chemo-radiation therapy has a good prognosis, in about 20 percent of cases, the cancer will metastasise,” Mr Finlayson said.

“While there are only 25,000 cases of HPV-associated head and neck cancers globally each year, demonstrated clinical proof of concept of the vaccine’s effectiveness in treatment would mean the HPV vaccine could potentially be used to treat all HPV-associated cancers.

“Professor Frazer had conducted two previous clinical trials of HPV immunotherapy and this new project is focused on the growing field of immuno-onocology”.

Innovation Minister Leeanne Enoch said the project, in which Admedus Immunotherapies is working with Brisbane’s Princess Alexandra Hospital, had the potential to become a billion-dollar market within three years of being approved.

“When Professor Ian Frazer and Dr Jian Zhou discovered a vaccine for the human papillomavirus in 1990, the health of women around the world changed for the better,” Ms Enoch said.

“This project has enormous potential – from saving lives around the world to reinforcing Queensland’s reputation as a place to conduct and invest in research and clinical development.”

Health Minister Cameron Dick said it was exciting to see the government’s efforts to support world-class health and biotechnology companies such as Admedus bearing fruit.

“This is fantastic news. It highlights how medical research and a focus on innovation can deliver the very latest, world-class health services and care for Queenslanders,” Mr Dick said.

“This type of home-grown innovation can not only transform the lives of Queensland patients, but those of people right across the world.

“Here in Queensland, and particularly in Brisbane, we are well on our way to becoming a key regional and global hub for health and biotechnology investment and innovation.

“The funding being provided to Admedus both stimulates the health and medical research sector and ensures we are creating the jobs of the future.”

The Ignite Ideas Fund is part of the $420 million Advance Queensland initiative aiming to turn ideas into actions by investing in research and technologies, attracting new investment, building global partnerships and encouraging businesses to start and grow in Queensland.

Tap Water Glass

Recent deluge delivers 86,000 million litres of drinking water to Southeast Qld

THE recent rain event in southeast Queensland has injected an extra 86,000 million litres of water into the region’s drinking water supply.

The deluge caused the combined storage levels of the Grid 12 – the 12 key dams that make up nearly 90 percent of the southeast’s drinking water supply – to increase by 4 percent to 75 percent.

That’s 86,000 million litres or three and a half months worth of drinking water added to the system.

Minister for Water Supply Mark Bailey said the drenching had delayed the need to implement the region’s drought readiness phase which is triggered when dams hit 70 percent.

But Mr Bailey said it was still important for residents to be waterwise, particularly on the Sunshine Coast.

“While the Sunshine Coast’s largest dam, Lake Baroon, received its second largest increase in two years, it was still just above 60% capacity,” Mr Bailey said.

“Seqwater will continue to operate the Water Grid to supplement Sunshine Coast supply from Brisbane and take the pressure off Lake Baroon.

“The rainfall has certainly filled rainwater tanks and given gardens and lawns a much-needed drenching which should allow all of us to reduce our outdoor water use over the next couple of weeks.”

Mr Bailey said that because of the record dry winter and hot start to spring, most of the initial rain was needed to saturate the ground before inflows started into dams.

“While we have seen very large rainfall, particularly on the Sunshine Coast, the dry conditions of our catchments meant the most of the early rain was needed just to wet the catchments enough for inflows to start,’’ he said.

“This has been a good boost to our dams ahead of summer, but we will need further rainfall to get our drinking water dams back to 100% capacity.”

The region’s largest dams also received a boost in supply, with Wivenhoe Dam increasing by two percent, Somerset Dam by six percent and North Pine Dam by five.

Across the region, eight dams are now spilling, with another seven recording water levels above 90%.


Qld Government announces FREE flu vaccines for children under 5

CHILDREN aged six months to five years old will receive free flu shots under a new vaccination program introduced by the Queensland Government following one of the worst flu seasons on record.

Minister for Health and Ambulance Services Cameron Dick said up to 300,000 children across Queensland would be eligible for a free flu vaccination next year.

“Following the spike in flu cases this year, the Palaszczuk Government is investing $1 million so young children can access a potentially lifesaving vaccine for free,” he said.

“Of all the vaccine preventable diseases, influenza causes the most hospital admissions of children under five years old.

“Children under five have some of the highest rates of influenza and associated complications, and this year has been no different.

Mr Dick said that so far this year 544 children aged under five admitted to public hospitals have tested positive for influenza.

“We also know that children contribute greatly to the spread of the flu in the community, and the risks of serious complications for kids who contract the flu are high.

“That’s why we’ve developed this program, to ensure young children have the best chance of protection against influenza.

Speaking after the Queensland Influenza Summit in Brisbane yesterday, Mr Dick said the State Government was exploring ways to better safeguard communities from serious flu outbreaks.

“Queensland has this year endured its worst flu season in many years,” Mr Dick said.

“More than 52,000 lab-confirmed cases of influenza have been recorded so far this year, and more than 5600 patients admitted to hospital have tested positive to influenza.

“Unfortunately influenza cannot be eradicated so we need to continue finding ways of protecting the community from this debilitating virus.”

The flu summit brought together health experts, including representatives of the World Health Organisation and other leading institutes, to develop strategies for managing future flu seasons.

“A lot of great ideas were discussed at today’s summit, but one of the key take-outs is that vaccination continues to be the best way to prevent the spread of this deadly disease,” he said.

“Countries such as the United Kingdom, Canada, the USA and Finland are already providing routine influenza vaccination for children under five, and I’m pleased we are adding Queensland to that list.”

The free vaccine will be made available through general practices and other childhood immunisation providers next year.