I was forgotten below deck all night, says disability pensioner

Spirit of Tasmania investigating after pensioner Gary Hurst claims to have been left below deck on Bass Strait

Latest News
FURY: Gary Hurst says he travelled below deck all the way from Devonport to Melbourne on Friday's Spirit of Tasmania overnight sailing trip. Picture: Phillip Biggs

FURY: Gary Hurst says he travelled below deck all the way from Devonport to Melbourne on Friday's Spirit of Tasmania overnight sailing trip. Picture: Phillip Biggs

Aa

Gary Hurst says he spent an entire Spirit of Tasmania journey in his vehilce, despite being told staff would help him to the passenger deck.

Aa

A 68-year-old disability pensioner has claimed he was left below deck for an entire overnight journey on the Spirit of Tasmania from Devonport to Melbourne.

Gary Hurst walks with a cane and has post-traumatic stress disorder - he was a first class constable of the Tasmania Police working at Port Arthur on April 28, 1996.

So when he drove onto the Spirit of Tasmania on Friday afternoon, a pink sticker was placed on his windshield to alert staff below deck that he required assistance.

Mr Hurst said he parked his RV on the same level as the large trucks and alongside the dog enclosure, and was told by a staff member to wait until someone came to his assistance.

"A woman came and said I was not to get out, so I said okay," Mr Hurst said.

"She said it is uneven out here, and dangerous, and somebody is coming."

But, he said, nobody came.

He said he stayed in his RV, alongside the dogs and the semi-trailers, on a deck of the ship which was "lit up like a casino" for the entire night's sailing.

He urinated in a plastic jug, and only slept a few hours as he was constantly expecting a passing patrol or security guard to realise he had been left behind.

Mr Hurst said he had refrained from taking his PTSD medication that night because it was a heavy sedative, and he did not want to sleep through an opportunity to be taken upstairs.

He also decided against attempting to find his own way to the passenger decks, because if something happened he feared he would be blamed for not following staff direction.

"At about 6.30am bloke came through, one of the workers, and I blew the horn, and his mouth nearly hits the ground," Mr Hurst said.

"He said 'what are you doing in the vehicle?' I said 'I was told to stay in the vehicle until somebody came', he said 'have you been there all night?' and I said yes."

A spokesman for TT Line, which owns the Spirit of Tasmania, said a full investigation into the matter is underway.

Aa