Queensland boy declared dead speaks out about miraculous survival

A seven-year-old Australian boy who was declared dead of hypothermia has spoken about how he lived to tell the tale. 

Julian Hohnen accompanied his father Maike and friend Stephen Jeacock on an overnight fishing trip off the Sunshine Coast in June.

All was going well until the anchor became tangled around the boat's propeller, pulling the rear of the vessel underwater.

Hohnen woke up in the middle of the night because his feet were wet, which he quickly realised was because the boat was sinking. The flares and life jackets had drifted away, leaving the trio with nothing in the way of floatation devices but two white buckets.

Jeacock managed to hold onto his phone and call emergency services, but poor weather conditions meant the group had to wait until 6am for a rescue helicopter.

Hohnen and his son clung to one of the buckets for six hours, grappling with both waves and the threat of sharks, which are common off the coast of Queensland.

At first Julian comforted his distressed father, telling him "It will be alright dad". But after a while in the freezing water, the boy stopped talking and was struggling to breathe.

"He was in a very, very bad shape, and I thought it would have been minutes," Hohnen told Australian current affairs programme Sunday Night, before revealing that had his son died he would have joined him.

"[I thought] if he stops breathing, I just let the bucket go. I know if he goes, I'm going with him."

Julian was "within minutes of dying" when a rescue helicopter finally arrived, and things weren't looking good for the boy. Medics found he had no pulse and had been medically dead for almost four minutes. 

Once he arrived at Queensland Children's Hospital he was placed in an induced coma, where he was expected to suffer brain damage if he survived at all.

Miraculously Julian woke up after 18 hours and has made a full recovery.

He told Sunday Night that when his classmates at school ask about his near-death experience, he tells them: "You can look on the news."


Contact Newshub with your story tips: