Australian sports stars Mat Rogers and Robbie McEwen kept their wits when they inhaled poisonous gas on a motor yacht, jumping into the sea to rescue a fellow passenger, reports said Thursday.
Dual rugby international Rogers and champion cyclist McEwen were among 10 people on the yacht off Australia’s Gold Coast who became disorientated after inhaling carbon monoxide fumes, which led to the man collapsing into the water.
Authorities say the two athletes’ fitness levels helped them cope with the situation better than the other passengers, and they kept the unconscious man’s head above water until help arrived, the reports said.
“I saw the man walk around to the back of the boat and pass out and fall into the water,” Rogers told the Daily Telegraph. “I think I was probably the only one who saw him fall overboard. I was just
coming to my senses and jumped in which was probably a silly thing to do.
“I ran through the boat and just dived in. Robbie (McEwen) tried to stop me because he knew I wasn’t feeling any good and then he dived in after me,” Rogers said. “I just grabbed the guy and laid back in the water and waited for the boat to come back around and get us.”
Plastic panels on the side of the boat, lowered to protect passengers from a storm, were believed to have created a vacuum that trapped the undetectable fumes.
“We were breathing it in, totally oblivious to it, we couldn’t smell it,” Rogers said.
Rogers, 34, retired this season after playing 11 rugby league Tests for Australia and 45 rugby union internationals for the Wallabies.
McEwen, 38, has won three green jerseys and 12 stages in his Tour de France career as well as 12 stages at the Giro d’Italia.