Finding Hvar’s Australian Swimming Hero: Witness Account and Update

Total Croatia News

Updated on:

October 8th 2017, we have a new witness account and lead for the near-drowning which occurred on 21st September 2017 but was avoided thanks to heroic acts by Australian tourists.

News of Craig and Jackie O’Neill’s rescue in Hvar on 21st September 2017 has hit the international media in search of the hero who rescued them.

Craig said “I accepted that I was going to die and he saved my life. Afterwards, he was as cool as anything, drying himself off like it was nothing.”

“The guy that jumped in for us was average build with an athletic body, thick dark hair and a tanned complexion”.

We published the story at 9.35 am this morning, putting out a call for anyone who may know the Australian.

Within a short amount of time, someone messaged Total Croatia News saying – “I think the guy you are looking for is a local guy Ante Žuanić.”

It instantly made sense to me, I know Ante – he is medium build, long hair, dark complexion and being that he works in tourism, he speaks perfect English which could easily be mistaken for an Australian accent.

Believe it or not, the first time I met Ante, was in a similar situation. After a wedding on island Solta, we were all heading back to Split in a local water taxi, the driver began to pull out without completely untying from the boat we were moored against! Ante immediately jumped into action, across boats and untied us from both sides, he then jumped onto the railings, pushing the boats apart (so they didn’t collide) while the captain got the boat under control.

There was one word in my mind – legend.

I managed to get a hold of Ante and he confirmed that he was there, he was driving the boat but he wasn’t the one who jumped in the water. Žuanić and his brother were pulling into port and saw the boat go down, they tried pulling in as close as they could and throwing a buoy and line to the group, confirming the story that Mr. Cartwright and Ms. Wilson managed to get to the rope and Žuanić explained that it was “an amazing effort by all passengers and crew to pull them aboard his boat.”

But, the sea was rough and Žuanić confirmed that the couple were struggling to stay afloat –

“Everyone from the boat was witnessing this happen, it was awful, I was the skipper so I couldn’t jump in because I was responsible for my guests but then two guys from the boat stripped down and jumped in to pull them out. It was really incredible, if it weren’t for those guys, I am sure they would have drowned. We were in the right place at the right time!”

We are now currently working to track down the Australian heroes. After contacting Mr. O’Neill to say we have a lead he said, he is so grateful – “I wasn’t sure they were definitely Australian but they said ‘we Australians are good swimmers.’

So, we are still in search of the hero or heroes? If you have any further information, please contact us at [email protected].


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