Police talk to a witness.
Police talk to a witness. Sarah Harvey

Champ dies in 140kmh boat crash

A POWERBOAT champion was killed yesterday when he was flung from a boat at about 140kmh on a dam near Ipswich.

Neil Coddington’s family and friends watched in horror as onlookers tried desperately to save the 57-year-old’s life after he was plucked unconscious from Somerset Dam.

Mr Coddington, who was alone in his boat Blue Max, was fatally injured when he slammed into the surface of the water at 8.45am.

His family was too distraught to talk but friends told The Queensland Times the Brisbane man known as “Fish” was a frequent visitor to the dam and was a “thrill seeker”.

They said he went to an area known as The Spit, which has no speed limit, to test his hydroplane powerboat.

Jason Perkins, an experienced boatie, was on the water in his boat when he saw the accident.

“It was horrific. He was coming down at about 140kmh to 150kmh and all of a sudden the boat did a hard left-hand turn,” he said.

“He just got spat out of the boat and cart-wheeled across the water.”

A boat expert told the QT it was routine for hydroplanes to reach speeds up to 300kmh.

Ipswich police acting Sergeant Mick Abbott said witnesses to the crash saw Mr Coddington, the sole occupant, perform a number of passes as he warmed up the boat.

“The driver was wearing a safety helmet and life preserver,” Sgt Abbott said.

Mr Perkins said he was on his boat with six other people and rushed to the man’s aid.

“I turned my boat around straight away and we got him out of the water and on to the duckboard and tried to resuscitate him,” he said.

Despite desperate measures by Mr Perkins and his mates to revive Mr Coddington, he died on the boat.

“Hitting the water at that speed is like hitting concrete,” Mr Perkins said.

Friends watching from the banks of the lake jumped in a tinny and sped out to try to reach their mate.

Mr Perkins said there were only three boats on the water at the time of the crash and that the water conditions were “perfect”.

Maritime Safety Queensland is investigating the incident and said speed would be one of the factors considered.

Water police from Brisbane went to the dam to recover the hydroplane and the police forensic crash unit is also investigating.

Friends of the family huddled together at the accident site and told the QT the crash was simply “a terrible accident”.

Mr Coddington and his brother Graham won several powerboating trophies in Blue Max.

The boat’s wreckage has sunk to the bottom of Lake Somerset and it is uncertain whether police investigators will be able to retrieve it.

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