Here, Belinda Bingham, 66, tells the story in her own words.
T￼ightening the cap on the Thermos, I placed it in my bag next to my sandwiches.
It was September this year, and my hubby Neil and I were heading out on our boat.
While Neil was going to do a bit of fishing, I’d be soaking up the sun on the deck!
As we set off, there was a calm breeze, and after about an hour, Neil turned off the motor.
‘This is the spot,’ he said. ‘Perfect,’ I replied ripping open my bag. ‘Breakfast!’
As the boat bobbed in the water, I poured a cuppa and we watched the sunrise. Then Neil threaded some bait on his hook and cast out his line.
Rubbing in some sunscreen, I slipped on a hat and sat back.
My hubby is in his element, I thought, as I watched Neil reel in fish after fish.
‘Another one!’ I chuckled, as his rod tugged. ‘That makes four,’ he said, winding in a golden snapper.
‘We’re having fish tonight!’ I said, licking my lips.
At about 11am, we decided to move to another spot so Neil could try his luck somewhere else in the harbour.
‘How about here?’ he yelled over the roar of the motor.
Switching off the boat, we bobbed up and down again, admiring the view. Then I walked to the back of the boat and stood looking out at the still water.
Not a ripple, a seagull or a fish in sight. It was just Neil and me
Pure bliss, I thought taking in our amazing country. Then out of nowhere I was suddenly shoved to the floor.
Dropping on all fours, it felt like someone had kicked me in the chest.
‘What happened?’ Neil said, racing to my side. ‘Something hit me,’ I said. But as I said the words, I found myself gasping for air.
Clutching at my neck, I realised my throat had been sliced open!
Looking down at the deck, I saw blood trickle between my fingers and onto the floor.
Sitting up, I locked eyes with Neil. He had an eerie calmness about him, but as I sat in a pool of my own blood, I knew it was bad.
Dialling Triple-0 with one hand, Neil started up the engine with the other.
‘My wife’s been injured,’ he stuttered in shock, giving them directions to the nearest boat ramp.
I need to stop the bleeding, I thought looking around.
Still holding my throat, I used my free hand to grab a nearby fishing towel.
Rolling it up, I pressed it against my neck.Then I flopped against a seat as Neil sped off. Was it a bird? I thought, wondering what had sliced my throat. But just then, a bright light flickered in the corner of my eye. Something was sticking out from behind the esky. It was a fishtail – and it was huge!
That must’ve been what hit me, I thought. As I lost more blood, I could feel the towel getting heavier.
Staying silent, I used all my energy to sit still and focus on my breathing.
When we reached the boat ramp, two police officers raced over.
‘What happened?’ an officer asked. ‘A long silver fish hit me,’ I croaked.
At the top of the steep moss-covered boat ramp, I saw an ambulance waiting.
One either side of me, the officers carefully carried me up the slippery slope.
‘I’ll meet you at the hospital,’ Neil yelled out from the boat.
Loading me into the back of the ambulance, the paramedics took over.
Prying my fingers off the towel, they quickly plugged my throat with gauze.
At the hospital, they stuck cameras down my nose and throat to see the damage from the inside.
Afterwards, I was lying there waiting for news, when Neil burst in.
‘It was a mackerel,’ he said. ‘A 10-kilo, metre-long mackerel!’
After Neil had docked, he’d investigated the blood-soaked boat, finding the fish. ‘It must’ve jumped up six feet,’ he said.
There was an awning on the boat, so the fish had leapt right between that and the rail, hitting me square on.You couldn’t make it up!
That evening, I was taken into theatre. The surgeon discovered that the fish hit me so hard, it had ripped open my throat, grazed my thyroid, sliced an artery and also bruised my ribs.
It’s thought it could’ve been travelling at 40kph and it was like I had whiplash from a car accident. Dissolvable stitches were used to sew up my throat. ‘We’re not sure if it’s damaged your voice box,’ the surgeon warned afterwards.
When I tried speaking, my voice came out all raspy.
Three days later I went home, only whispering when it was absolutely necessary.
When my girlfriends from kickboxing dropped by for tea, I showed them the huge scar and soon became the talk of the town. ‘Wrong place, wrong time,’ I croaked.
Now, I sound like I have a cold and I’m still waiting to find out the extent of the damage to my voice box. I still can’t believe a fish did this to me, but it is what it is!
I’m facing a long road to recovery. But I’ll certainly be getting back on board when I’m feeling up to it.
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