Australian tour boat abandons U.S. snorkeler

Author:
Publish date:

Australian authorities are investigating a recent incident in which a Great Barrier Reef dive boat accidentally left a U.S. snorkeler behind, forcing him to swim to another boat.

Ian Cole, 28, of Michigan, said the Passions of Paradise tour boat took off without him Saturday on Michaelmas Cay near Cairns. Cole, who was given a $200 restaurant voucher as compensation by the tour company, said he feared he would drown in a scenario reminiscent of the 1998 case of abandoned American scuba divers Tom and Eileen Lonergan off nearby Port Douglas — an incident that inspired the film Open Water.

"Panic kicks in, your heart rate goes up and you don't know what's going to happen. I was sucking water back into my snorkel and was really trying hard to stay calm," Cole told the Sydney Morning Herald. ''When I got to the other boat they looked down like, 'What the hell are you doing here?' They said my boat had left 15 minutes ago. I thought they were joking.''

Click here for an Australian TV news interview with Cole.