A commercial diver was badly injured in New Zealand on Wednesday afternoon (24 May) when he was dragged into the propellor of the ferry on which he had been working.
Medical staff later told Michal Kovác’s wife of four months Gillian it was a miracle that her husband had survived the harrowing incident.
The experienced diver, from the Czech Republic and in his mid-30s, had been carrying out routine maintenance work on the hull of a moored SeaLink ferry in Auckland’s Half Moon Bay Marina.
Kovác had completed recording the condition of the hull and had started to climb a ladder to exit the water, passing his GoPro camera to another member of his team, according to local press reports. It was at this point that a crew-member is thought to have started the boat’s engine.
Kovác’s umbilical must have been close enough to the ferry’s propeller to become wrapped around it as it began turning, and the diver was dragged back into the water as the cable tightened.
Realising what had happened, members of the dive-team yelled for the engine to be switched off and a dive supervisor went in to retrieve Kovác. Another member of the team applied CPR as they waited for an ambulance.
Operated on that night
Kovác was rushed to hospital in critical condition, was operated on that night and remained in its intensive care unit with five broken ribs and lacerations all over his torso, legs and face.
It was unclear whether the injuries had been incurred when he was dragged towards the propeller, slammed into the hull or both. He had also inhaled sea water that needed to be pumped out of his lungs.
Gillian Kovác told press she had been able to speak to her husband, who could remember little about what had happened and thought he must have been rendered unconscious on being pulled back down into the water.
Hospital staff had reassured her that her husband would pull through and could be discharged within days. New Zealand health and safety body WorkSafe and Maritime NZ are looking into the incident.
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