Owner: Shark-finger tale is just a big fib
By BRAD PETERSEN
A TRAWLER skipper has been sacked for allegedly telling a lie about saving a woman from the jaws of a four-metre tiger shark off Yeppoon.
Jeff Wells captured national media attention on Tuesday with his story of fighting a shark near Yeppoon after his daughter fell overboard and into a net.
But Bundaberg professional fisherman Alan Curteis, who coowns the boat Namu which Mr Wells skippered, said television news crews had swallowed a lie ? hook, line and sinker.
"What they have told you is a complete fabrication. There was no shark that bit her finger. She lost a part of it because it got caught in a front roller while out at sea about five weeks ago,'' Mr Curteis said.
"The story is rubbish ... I have sacked them both.''
Mr Curteis co-owns three professional shark fishing boats which operate in waters between Bowen and Bundaberg.
He confirmed Mr Wells had been an employee for three years and that the other crew member on Namu was Mr Wells's partner, Eileen Purchase, not a daughter as claimed.
Mr Curteis said he had numerous phone calls yesterday from friends who had seen the television reports. "They've taken people for a nice old ride on this one,'' Mr Curteis said.
A Yeppoon Coast Guard official confirmed there had been a retrieval off the Capricorn Coast several weeks ago involving a trawler.
He said it had been a female crew member who injured her hand in a mechanical accident.
The woman was taken to a Rockhampton Hospital where the tip of her middle finger had to be amputated because it was so badly crushed.
The Bundaberg News-Mail spoke with Mr Wells at Bundaberg's Midtown Marina on Wednesday morning, at which time he again told the story of how he and his daughter got into trouble with a shark while fishing off Yeppoon.
The victim showed her damaged finger and said while she had little memory of the shark incident, the thought of what may have happened if not for Mr Wells's bravery sent shivers down her spine.
Attempts by The Morning Bulletin to contact Mr Wells yesterday were unsuccessful.