A lifesaver has been left with horrific injuries after the surfboat she was rowing during a marathon event was involved in a freak accident.
Vesna Andric, from Bega on NSW’s south coast, suffered a smashed pelvis, fractured ribs and internal bleeding when she was hit with the full force of a 300kg surfboat during the George Bass Surfboat Marathon on January 4.
Ms Andric was rowing for the Tathra Surf Lifesaving Club women’s side and was heading towards the shore of Bermagui Beach in challenging conditions when disaster struck.
Her friend and teammate Kate Whitton told Daily Mail Australia that the accident started when the sweep – the person who steers the boat – was thrown into the water, turning the boat sideways.
Vesna Andric (pictured) suffered horrific injuries when she was struck by her surfboat during the George Bass Surfboat Marathon
Ms Andric was rowing for the Tathra Surf Lifesaving Club and was heading towards the shore of Bermagui Beach in challenging conditions when the freak accident occurred
With the boat turning sideways, the crew made the decision to abandon ship.
‘A shore dump wave has come out of nowhere and collected Vesna,’ Ms Whitton said.
‘These things weigh up to 300kg, so she has taken the full force of this boat.’
Amidst the horrific injuries Ms Andric sustained, her spine was also detached from her pelvis.
‘Luckily our open men’s team had four paramedics who immediately jumped into action,’ Ms Whitton said.
‘They were right there on the spot and treated her as if she had a spinal injury.’
‘I’m thankful we had the paramedics from the men’s team.’
An Air Ambulance was called to the beach and Ms Andric was airlifted to a hospital in Sydney.
Ms Whitton said Ms Andric has been recovering in the ICU and has since had her spine reattached to her pelvis.
Teammate Kate Whitton told Daily Mail Australia that the sweep was thrown into the water before the boat was launched by a wave that struck Vesna
The veteran rower was treated by four men from Tathra Surf Lifesaving Club’s men’s side, who happened to be paramedics, and was airlifted to hospital
Ms Whitton has set up a GoFundMe to support Ms Andric, who she described as ‘the most lovely lady who puts others before herself’ (pictured, the women’s support boat of John McKee with Vesna Andric, Kate Whitton, Kim Burop and Suzie Hides)
She also revealed that Ms Andric was recently ‘assisted to stand up for the first time since the accident’.
Ms Whitton has set up a GoFundMe page to support Vesna during her recovery.
‘You could not find a more generous, supportive teammate,’ she said when describing Ms Andric.
‘She is the most lovely lady who puts others before herself. She has even been texting us to see if we were okay after the accident.’
Ms Whitton said the Bega Valley community, Tathra Surf Lifesaving Club, the organising committee for the George Bass Surfboat Marathon and the broader NSW surf lifesaving community have been very supportive during her teammate’s recovery.
‘The surf lifesaving club and the surf club community of NSW has behind us and helped raised money,’ she said.
‘The support has been amazing.
I’ve been very thankful for the local community as it’s tight knit and everyone has rallied around this club and Vesna.’
Ms Whitton said the Bega Valley community, Tathra Surf Lifesaving Club and the organising committee for the George Bass Surfboat Marathon have been very supportive
Ms Andric has competed in numerous George Bass Surfboat Marathons and has been a member of previous surf clubs
Ms Andric has competed in numerous George Bass Surfboat Marathons, which run for seven days, and has been a member of previous surf clubs.
Ms Whitton mentioned her and Ms Andric’s excitement for the marathon’s 50th anniversary in 2025.
More than $30,000 has been raised to support Vesna on the GoFundMe page.
If you’d like to support Vesna, you can donate here.