The son of a 71-year-old man who died on a snorkelling trip to the Great Barrier Reef claims he was approached by the tour boat’s lawyer while holding his father’s body.
Adrian Meyer, from Angaston in South Australia, died after he and a group of snorkellers were swept away by a strong current over the reef on Monday afternoon.
He was with his son Nicholas Meyer and daughter Angela Henson about 60km off the coast northeast of Cairns when disaster struck.
Dangerous weather conditions had swept the snorkelers far from the boat and a strong current prevented them from swimming back.
During the struggle with the current, it’s believed Mr Meyer, 71, suffered a medical episode and was boarded onto a rescue vessel which sank a short time later.
Adrian Meyer (above) died during a horror Great Barrier Reef tour on Monday after a group of snorkelers were swept away by strong currents
Mr Meyer’s son, Nicholas, claims he was approached by Reef Experience’s lawyer while still holding his father’s body on board the reef tour boat (above)
A nearby boat, which one witness described as a ‘blow up duckie sort of thing’, stepped in to pull an unresponsive Mr Meyer from the water and took him to the main vessel.
All the while, frightened swimmers who were left behind began yelling after spotting a lingering reef shark.
Back on the boat with his father, Nicholas Meyer said a paramedic was lowered onto the boat from a rescue helicopter and after a half hour of him and his sister ‘crying and screaming’, it was confirmed their father was dead.
Mr Meyer said he laid on the floor next to his father’s body, which was moved to the captain’s cabin, and held his hand for the duration of the trip back to Cairns.
When the boat docked, Mr Meyer claims he was immediately met by a lawyer representing Reef Experience.
‘I was nursing my father’s body when he introduced himself,’ he told the Cairns Post on Friday.
‘He handed me his card as he came up to me and asked, ‘Is this your dad?’.
‘I said, ‘I’d prefer not to answer any questions. I’d prefer you leave’.’
The tour group was located at Norman Reef, around 60 kilometres out from Cairns, when the tragedy unfolded
Other passengers said the trouble could have been avoided if the company had ‘tested the water’ and not let non-confident swimmers into the strong currents
Mr Meyer said he burst into tears and began hugging his father before the lawyer finally left.
Ms Henson, who was adopted at five weeks old and only met her biological father five years ago.
She described the horror 90-minute boat ride to shore with their father’s body, noting they had no phone reception to reach family members.
‘We were trapped there for three hours with his dead body. I was screaming, slamming my fist on the wooden door. I was bloody furious,’ she said.
The pair told the publication believe their father would ‘be alive today’ if the tour guides had better tested conditions of the water before snorkelers set out.
‘We’re not letting this go,’ Mr Meyer said.
He added The Queensland Tourism Minister had said, ‘I certainly don’t want to see this blown out of proportion’.
But Mr Meyer argued that ‘no-one is saying that it should be. But at the same time, no-one should die on the Great Barrier Reef.’
The family have hired personal injury lawyer Travis Schultz of Travis Schultz and Partners since losing their father.
Two other passenger Amber and Luke Hooper believe the ‘nightmare’ five-hour ordeal could have been avoided if the tour operator, Reef Experience, had decided to keep passengers out of the water.
‘It seems far-fetched that so much could go wrong,’ Ms Hooper told Courier Mail.
‘We were swimming along when suddenly I noticed I was about 100 metres away from the boat.’
‘I tried to swim back but I just wasn’t moving. The current was so strong. There were people around me struggling too, including a young male and woman near me.’
The mother-of-two was terrified she wasn’t going to make it home to her kids, as well as currently being heavily pregnant with a third.
Mr Meyer (pictured with his daughter, Angela Henson) was reportedly a massive environmentalist and snorkelling enthusiast
Both Mr Meyer and Ms Henson described their late father as a massive environmentalist and snorkelling enthusiast with a ‘heart of gold’.
His death has been especially hard on his wife, Rosalyn, who has stage four cancer.
‘Now Mum has no carer anymore,’ Mr Meyer said.
Queensland Tourism Minister Stirling Hinchliffe said the coroner and Workplace Health and Safety Queensland would also investigate.
‘I don’t want to pre-empt anything in that sort of space, but these are all matters that need to be looked at very closely in relation to the operator, in relation to general operations, the circumstances of the day,’ he said.
‘Any tragedy that occurs anywhere in our community, but particular in our visitor economy, is something that is of great concern and I want to extend my condolences.’
Investigations are underway as police prepare a report for the coroner.
Daily Mail Australia has contacted Reef Experience for comment.