Golfer nearly drowns in lagoon
IT WAS supposed to be a relaxing day on the green.
But a Sunday golf tournament almost cost Col Zemek his life when he became trapped under water, pinned down by the weight of a trailer and golf buggy.
It was sheer luck that some passing golfers saw the commotion and were able to roll the 700kg trailer and motorised buggy off his back.
Mr Zemek is certain that without those two men, he would have drowned.
"I just wanted to thank the other golf members for their help," he said.
"I certainly appreciate everything they did."
No one could have predicted the freak accident that played out at the Maryborough Golf Club and left Mr Zemek submerged in the lagoon by the clubhouse.
He and his three mates had finished their game and he was alone when disaster struck.
The keen golfer drove his buggy onto his trailer, which wasn't attached to a vehicle.
But he soon realised the trailer was rolling, so he jumped off the back and tried to stop it.
Mr Zemek lost his footing on the embankment before the trailer struck him in the back, knocked him into the lagoon and came to rest on top of him.
Lying face-down in two-feet of water, it was a battle to even get his nose above the surface.
He lay like that for mere minutes, but it must have seemed like an eternity.
"There were a few times when I thought I was a goner," he said.
"I had to stretch my neck up as high as I could and even then I had to work out a way to breathe without swallowing the water.
"I had to wriggle my head to make a wave and time it so that I could take a breath.
"Once I knew I could get air, I realised I needed to start calling for help.
"Help - that's the only word I said.
"Help, in one big, long word.
"I can still hear it in my thoughts or my dreams, and it sounds like someone else saying it.
"I said it three times and then I heard, 'Hang on mate we're right here'."
Gary Dahlke and Kim McKenna fished an injured and breathless Mr Zemek from the lagoon.
Mr McKenna said they were just in the right place at the right time.
"I don't think there's anything heroic about what we did," he said.
"I have no idea how he ended up where he did - 10 or 20mm lower and he would have been drowning.
"The men were able to tip the trailer and buggy off Mr Zemek, but knew they had to be careful of his spine."
Firefighters and paramedics arrived soon after and Mr Zemek was taken to hospital.
He could barely walk and was in such pain he assumed his ribs were broken and his back crushed.
But, amazingly, he suffered just some muscular damage and this week was able to return to work with the council.
Mr Zemek admitted there were a lot of "what-ifs" about his accident.
"Five minutes later and those golfers would have been back at the clubhouse and I would have perished for sure," he said.
"If we'd had more rain, the lagoon would have been deeper.
"Someone upstairs was looking after me."
Mr Zemek thanked everyone who helped and said he hoped to one day return to playing golf.
"I'll never be parking there again or doing that again, but it will be a long time before I get back to golf."