AN OVERSEAS holiday for an American husband and wife has ended in tragedy after the 76-year-old man died from a heart attack after he was airlifted from a cruise ship off Bundaberg's coast.
Rescue pilot Peter Marris said the elderly man had suffered chest pain and shortness of breath while onboard the Saga Ruby, about 92km (50 nautical miles) north-east of Bundaberg, and the helicopter was called to take him off the ship for further treatment shortly after 1pm on Monday.
"We established communications by marine radio with the captain of the vessel about 15 minutes before we got there," Mr Marris said.
"The captain confirmed they had cleared the pool deck and that the patient was standing by."
Mr Marris said the crew battled with 21-knot winds and 2m sea swell to winch a paramedic down to the man, all the while trying to keep pace with the ship, which was travelling about 30kmh.
"We came to a hover, but we were still flying at the speed of the ship," he said.
AGL intensive care paramedic Kevin Charteris said the man's condition quickly worsened soon after being winched into the chopper.
"He was fully conscious and understood all the instructions to be winched off the boat," he said.
"When he was in the helicopter, he became unconscious and then his breathing decreased."
Mr Charteris said the man then stopped breathing and went into cardiac arrest.
"We could not restart his heart," he said.
The man was pronounced dead at Bundaberg Hospital.
Biggenden father-of-five Morrison Marshall is also fighting for his life after a 120kg steel pole fell on him late Monday afternoon.
It is believed the 58-year-old, who works in mining exploration, was helping his son on a cattle yard at Coalstoun Lakes when the accident happened.
Mr Marshall was first taken to Biggenden Hospital before being airlifted to Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital where he remains in a critical but stable condition.
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