Life lesson: blast fishing & no teeth a bad idea

Reason No. 375 why newspapers are struggling: The stories just aren’t as captivating as they once were.

Take the following account from the June 18, 1943, Morning Bulletin of Rockhampton, Australia, recounted by the blog buried words and bushwa:

CAIRNS (Australia) – Defying all attempts at removal, a small fish which entered Samuel Attard’s throat, head first, while he was swimming in the Russell River this afternoon, was the cause of a most unusual tragedy.

Attard, who was a maltose cane cutter, aged 34, had been swimming in the river with a mate, who on missing him, searched and found him at the foot of a 30 ft. bank in distress. At first they were unable to find the cause of the trouble, but when the tail of a fish was seen in the back of his throat the ambulance at Babinda, 13 miles away, was sent for. Their efforts to remove the fish failed and artificial respiration was unavailing. So completely had the fish blocked his throat that it was impossible to pass a tube. Later an attempt to provide air by way of an opening in the throat was also tried, but it was unsuccessful.. When a doctor arrived he pronounced life extinct.

Buried words and bushwa didn’t leave it at that, however. The blog followed up the newspaper story by reading about the coroner’s inquest.

It turns out that Attard’s demise came because he employed a method of fishing known as dynamiting, or blast fishing, which consists of tossing explosives into a body of water, then scooping up stunned and dead fish when they float to the surface.

Attard climbed a tree and tossed the explosives into a swimming hole before jumping into the water to retrieve the fish, buried words and bushwa writes.

Apparently his usual practice was to put a fish in his mouth once his hands were full.

“Attard had no top teeth so it was quite easy for the slippery little critter to slide into his throat,” the blog explains.

Buried words and bushwa closes with the following: “It sounds as though bystanders tried a few things to keep Attard breathing, but I am not sure how effective a riverbank tracheotomy would be unless it is performed by an actual doctor… ”


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