PENANG: A 21-year-old Australian died and her male companion was seriously injured when a water scooter they were riding on collided with another at Monkey Beach in Muka Head near Telok Bahang here.
Catherine Shepherd, who was controlling the scooter, died almost instantaneously while her Mexican companion Carlos Gonzalos, 29, who was riding pillion, suffered serious head injuries and a fractured left ankle.
Their two friends, who were riding on the other scooter, escaped with slight injuries although they were thrown off the machine.
Minutes before the mishap at 12.30pm yesterday, the friends on the two scooters were seen chasing one another some 500m from shore.
State CID chief Senior Asst Comm II Azman Yusof said Australians Natasha Sage and Rachel Dimieri, both 20, escaped with light injuries.
“Both received outpatient treatment at the Gleneagles Medical Centre in Jalan Pangkor.
“Gonzalos is currently warded at the intensive care unit. His condition is serious but stable,” he said.
“A post-mortem by forensic pathologist Dr Bhupinder Singh found that Shepherd died from internal injuries. The impact of the crash was so great that one of her fractured ribs punctured her heart.”
SAC Azman said the water scooter operator, who witnessed the mishap, immediately sent out a boat to retrieve the victims.
“Two Red Crescent personnel, who were on stand-by at the request of the operator, administered first aid but failed to revive Shepherd,” he said.
“The operator then radioed for a boat to ferry Shepherd and the others to the Teluk Bahang jetty, from where they were rushed to the private hospital.”
SAC Azman said statements had been taken from the two survivors. The incident had been classified as sudden death.
It is learnt that the four were tourists of a cruise ship, Pacific Sky, which made a stopover in Penang en route to Singapore from Phuket.
A check by The Star found that the water scooters were supplied by an unlicensed operator in Batu Feringghi.
No operators in the state have been issued licences by the Penang Municipal Council under the Jet Ski and Water Scooter Bylaws 1995.
Pressmen who waited at the hospital since 3.45pm were barred from the emergency room.