Looking for Australian Hvar Hero Who Saved Drowning Man on September 21

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by Paul Bradbury,

In search of a heroic Australian who dived in from an excursion boat to save some drowning Brits close to the Pakleni Islands on September 21, reports the Lancashire Post on October 6, 2017. 

A dramatic holiday tale in a local paper in northern England has brought to light an act of heroism that undoubtedly saved at least one life in the seas close to Hvar Town last month, and the grateful Brit who was convinced he was going to drown, is now deperately searching for his Australian rescuer, so that he can thank him properly.

According to the Lancashire Post, Craig and Jackie O’Neill, and their friends Jay Cartwright and Helen Wilson, were holidaying on Hvar, and like many others, decided to visit the fabulous Pakleni Islands. While most people take the frequent excursion boats, they decided to hire a boat, and the four of them set off. It was a glorious day and they had a wonderful time on the Pakleni islands.

Things started to go wrong on the way back as they encountered somewhat choppier seas in the stretch of open water from the Pakleni Islands back to Hvar, and then a huge wave threw them all out of the boat and into the water. Jackie was initially stuck under the boat, but all four managed to hold on to the capsized boat, which then started to sink. They tried to attract the attention of a passing excursion boat 25m away with about 20 people on board, presumably also returning from a day of sun worship at Palmizana or one of the other top destinations.

Craig, who is not a strong swimmer and knew he was in serious trouble, noticed a man dive into the water and swim towards them. Explaining in his Australian accent that he could only take one person, he took Jackie on his back, until he realised that there was no way that Craig was going to survive. Heroically, he managed to get them both back to his excursion boat and safety, where Jay had already managed to reach. In a sign of the quick reaction of Hvar’s emergency services, Helen was resuced by Hvar’s lifeguards. A terrifying ordeal, and you can read the full account in the Lancashire Post’s article here.

Jackie O’Neill, 51, Craig’s partner of the last 20 years, said: “The guy that jump in for us was average built with an athletic body, had thick dark hair and a tanned complexion.” Leane said: “What a hero this man is, my family mean the world to me and that’s why we are all so desperate to find him.”

“The only thing I did to thank this man was give him a nod,” Craig said. “I want to thank him properly. I accepted I was going to die and he saved my life. “Afterwards he was cool as anything drying himself off like it was nothing. I want to know what went through his mind at the time.” Jackie O’Neill, 51, Craig’s partner of the last 20 years, said: “The guy that jump in for us was average built with an athletic body, had thick dark hair and a tanned complexion.”

Were you on the boat? Do you know the mystery Australian? If yes to either questions, please contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. The incident happened at about 17:30 on September 21. 

Accidents do occur on holiday, and while this kind of freak yacht is a rarity, if you are renting a boat and are not comfortable sailors, it is worth checking the weather forecasts for the entire day before renting a boat. Everything ended well in this case, and the opportunity for Craig to thank his Australian hero would be a nice end to the story. 

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