Man saw a 'flash of white' before his stepson was hit by a whale

Frightening new details emerge of the moment a 10metre whale headbutted a teenage boy and leapt out of the water – leaving him fighting for life

  • Nick Myhill, 18, and Matthew Price, 39, were fishing when the tragedy struck
  • Mr Price said he saw a ‘flash of white’ before his stepson was headbutted   
  • Teenager had serious head injuries and broke his neck. He is in a coma
  • The family don’t know if Nick will ever wake up, or the extent of his injuries 

Pictured: Nick Myhill, 18

The stepfather of a teenager who is in a coma with a broken neck and catastrophic head injuries after being headbutted by a whale on a fishing trip has described the moment he saw a ‘flash of white’ fly out of the water.

Nick Myhill, 18, and Matthew Price, 39, were fishing in Narooma, on the far south coast of New South Wales, at 7.30 on Sunday morning when the 10-metre baleen whale leapt out of the water and hit the deck of their five-metre vessel.

The doting stepfather, whose quick call to marine rescue saved the young man’s life, said there was a ‘huge black shadow’ before he saw a white belly soar from the ocean.

‘I saw a flash of white, his belly, it was twice, maybe three times, the size of the boat and knocked the engine out,’ he told the Daily Telegraph.

‘There was a big loud crash, it was like a giant truck struck us side on.’

The enormous mammal headbutted Mr Myhill front-on and sent him flying to the back of the boat where he smashed the back of his head.

Mr Price said the was like a scene from a movie – it unfolded fast and he was terrified – but he managed to restart the engine and turn the boat around.

Pictured: Matthew Price, 39, who saved his stepson Nick Myhill’s life after the teen was headbutted by a whale

Pictured: Nick Myhill, 18, who sustained serious head injuries and broke his neck when a whale launched itself at his boat

The fishing boat was hit by a baleen whale. There are 14 species of baleen whale, including the blue, bowhead, right, humpback, minke and grey whale (pictured: stock image of a humpback whale)

As the injured pair made their way back to shore, the stepfather frantically started calling mayday and organised for an ambulance to meet them at Narooma boat ramp.

Mr Price said the pair went fishing together about three times a week and had been looking forward to catching a haul of king fish.

The teenager’s mother Kate Myhill said she always feared his love of the ocean would be his demise.

Pictured: Nick Myhill, 18, who was severely injured when a humpback whale hit his fishing boat on Sunday

Pictured: The damaged boat Mr Myhill and Mr Price were in when a humpback whale breached the deck

Pictured: The boat Mr Myhill and Mr Price were in when the whale leapt out of the water and body-slammed the deck

‘At this stage we don’t know if he will come out of the coma, I’m here looking at him on the bed, I wish he hadn’t gone fishing that day,’ she said. 

The shattered mum described the young gardener’s love of fishing and said she expected his brush with death to be with a hungry shark rather than a whale.

The small boat was heavily damaged in the incident.

Along with a series of dents, the cabin is partially destroyed, the rubber is falling off the rim of the vessel and whale blubber could be seen dangling from the edge.

In a statement to Daily Mail Australia, the family said Mr Price’s quick phone call to marine rescue ‘undoubtedly’ saved the young man’s life. 

Pictured: Matthew Price, who saved his stepson Nick Myhill’s life when a whale landed on their fishing boat on Sunday

‘Matt and Nick are seasoned fishermen, and this was an accident that could have happened to anyone,’ they said.

Mr Myhill is expected to be in hospital for ‘some time’ and his medical expenses continue to mount.  

Family friend Carmen Bartley set up a Go Fund Me campaign to help cover the medical bills.

‘At this stage, we don’t know when he will wake up, or how this has affected his brain,’ Ms Bartley said.

She explained the family will likely need to pay for modifications to their home to accommodate for Nick’s injuries, or move to a larger home.  

Pictured: The fishing boat Mr Myhill and Mr Price were in when a whale landed on it on Sunday

‘We also need to help Nick’s family survive financially through this ordeal, including paying for accommodation in Canberra to be with him, hopefully without them having to leave Nick’s side to return to work too soon,’ she wrote.

Marine Area Commander, Superintendent Joe McNulty, said Maritime NSW launched an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the incident.

‘While inquiries are in their infancy, the incident demonstrates the dangers these mammals can pose to those on the water,’ Supt McNulty said on Tuesday.

‘In recent days, the number of whales migrating north has dramatically increased, and maritime authorities have received reports they’re travelling closer to the coast than in previous years.  

‘Given the close proximity to the shoreline, there is potential for some spectacular whale watching, but we encourage anyone hoping to get a closer look to maintain a safe distance.’

The pair scrambled to Narooma boat ramp (stock image) and paramedics raced them to hospital

It is believed the whale may have also been injured during the incident.

NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service will work with Organisation for the Rescue and Research of Cetaceans in Australia to monitor the mammal.

Whales start to migrate from Antarctica in March and reach the warmer waters of Queensland by June.    

Authorities have urged  skippers to be aware of surroundings and maintain safe distances while on the water during this season’s migration.

Supt McNulty reminded coastal residents not to approach a whale and to remain at least 100m away while on a boat, and 300km away on a jet ski.

‘For those lucky enough to view from above the water, unmanned aircraft (drones) must not encroach closer than 100m,’ he said.

Other aircraft must maintain a distance of 300m, except helicopters and gyrocopters, which must maintain a distance of 500m.


There are 14 species of baleen whale including the blue, bowhead, right, humpback, minke and grey whale. 

Baleen whales are generally larger than toothed whales except for the sperm whale which is very big and has teeth. 

Many baleen whales migrate annually, travelling long distances between cold water feeding areas and warm water breeding areas. 

Baleen whales are grouped into four families and they range in size from the blue whale which can grow up to 33m long, to the pygmy right whale, which is 6.5m long 

Source: Whale and Dolphin Conservation 

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