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Family torn apart in horror boat tragedy

Tom Eckert and Paul Eckert died in a boat accident off Port Lincoln on March 25, 2024. Picture: 7News
Tom Eckert and Paul Eckert died in a boat accident off Port Lincoln on March 25, 2024. Picture: 7News

The identities of the people swept up in a horror boat accident in South Australia’s Eyre Peninsula that left three people dead have been revealed.

Flinders University professor Danny Eckert, his brother Tom, father Paul, Danny’s 13-year-old son and the boat captain were thrown into the waters off Port Lincoln on Monday about 4pm after an apparent freak wave hit the vessel.

Professor Eckert, 44, and his son survived by clinging to a reef for 10 hours before they were located by a police helicopter about 2am on Tuesday.

Professor Danny Eckert survived the boat accident with his 13-year-old son. Picture: Supplied
Professor Danny Eckert survived the boat accident with his 13-year-old son. Picture: Supplied

Tom, Paul and the boat captain died in the tragedy, with all three found deceased by police on Tuesday.

“Just after 8.30pm on Monday, police were alerted after five people who set off in a fishing vessel from Port Lincoln did not return,” the police said in a statement on Tuesday afternoon.

“Police Water Operations Unit and Port Lincoln police launched a search, utilising resources from the local Sea Rescue.

Tom and Paul Eckert died in the accident. Picture: 7 News
Tom and Paul Eckert died in the accident. Picture: 7 News

“Polair and a Challenger aircraft from AUSSAR were also deployed.

“Numerous messages across marine radio channels alerted vessels in the area to assist with the search.”

The searchers found the boat upturned near Spilsby Island.

The location of Spilsby Island in South Australia. Picture: Google Maps
The location of Spilsby Island in South Australia. Picture: Google Maps
PORT LINCOLN RESCUE OPERATION
Emergency services launched a large-scale rescue operation after members of the Eckert family and the boat captain did not return from their fishing trip. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Mark Brake

Professor Eckert has a PhD in sleep and respiratory physiology from Adelaide University.

“My research aims to improve understanding of obstructive sleep apnoea and respiratory disease pathophysiology, identify novel therapeutic targets, and develop new-targeted therapies,” Professor Eckert says on his Flinders University website.

In 2019, he was awarded the Pierre Robin Award from the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine for “exceptional initiative and progress in the areas of education and academic research with original contributions to dental sleep medicine”.