Teen in Coma After 'Headbutt' From a Whale

Family describes freak accident off Australia's east coast
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 9, 2021 11:36 AM CDT
Teen in Coma After 'Headbutt' From a Whale
A breaching humpback whale.   (Wikimedia Commons)

(Newser) – They were, in a word, unlucky. A young Aussie fisherman is fighting for his life, and another is recovering from a concussion after a breaching whale fell on their boat Sunday. "They had no warning, and no time to react," family members say in a statement, per CNN. Nick Myhill, 18, was fishing with his 39-year-old stepfather Matthew Price off the coast of New South Wales' Narooma, about 200 miles south of Sydney, when it happened. A whale emerged from the water, only to crash down on the front of the men's fishing boat. It was like "a giant truck that hit us," Price says, per the Times of London, adding the 30-foot-long whale essentially ended up "headbutting" Myhill. With the vessel taking on water, Price put out a mayday call and arranged an ambulance for pickup at the boat ramp.

Price was treated for a concussion and cuts to his face at a local hospital, while Myhill was airlifted to Canberra, where he's now in a coma with head injuries and a fractured spine. "Matt's actions no doubt saved Nick's life," but "the extent of these injuries, and long term implications is not known yet," the family says. "This was an accident that could have happened to anyone," the statement adds. Price says it all "happened so fast." "There was this huge black shadow that flew out of the water from what felt like nowhere." "We must have spooked it," he adds. It's unclear what type of whale it was, but experts say tens of thousands of humpback whales are migrating through the area. Marine Area Command warned in a Facebook post that "in recent days, the number of whales migrating north has dramatically increased, and maritime authorities have received reports they’re travelling closer to the coast than in previous years." Officials are working to find and monitor the whale involved. (Read more whales stories.)

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