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On Valentine's Day 2017, 29-year-old Jake Tasker and some friends, including his new girlfriend, took a houseboat cruise up the Nambucca River. A few hours into the retreat, he heard screams and went to investigate. That's when he spotted his friend's partner floating unconscious in the water.
Without hesitation, Jake dove headfirst into the river to save the man — a selfless act that would change his life forever. Jake hit a sandbank below the water. The impact shattered his chest and neck. He was left drifting on his back, keeping himself afloat with the little movement that remained in his hands.
After reaching shallow water, Jake's girlfriend was able to get to him. She held his neck straight to avoid further damage. A friend dialled Triple Zero from the boat.
Unable to get Jake out of the water, his girlfriend and friends stayed with him and kept him afloat for the five and a half hours it took emergency
services to locate them.
Jake was flown by helicopter to Princess Alexandra Hospital in Brisbane. There he underwent emergency treatment for spinal injuries and hypothermia. Doctors operated on him for over ten hours before placing him into an induced coma.
The following day, they told Jake's family that Jake had broken his neck in two places and was lucky to be alive.
Jake was diagnosed with quadriplegia and was unlikely to ever walk again.
Jake was transferred to Royal North Shore Hospital in Sydney. There he spent over three months recuperating in a hospital bed. This was followed by two months of rehab at the Royal Rehabilitation Centre.
Although Jake's heroic actions resulted in his friend's partner being found and rescued from the water, his world had changed.
A motor mechanic by trade, Jake's job needed him to stand, bend, kneel and lift heavy items. Wheelchair-bound, and no longer able to perform these duties, Jake found himself unable to earn an income.
Luckily, Jake had Total Permanent Disability cover through his super — not that he was aware of it.
"I didn't think that I had any insurance whatsoever,"Jake told his claims assessor. “I thought that if it happened at work I was insured. I didn't think it covered me in the middle of a river when I jumped in. I probably wouldn't have even looked at it if my mum didn't raise it.”
Because he was unlikely to ever return to work within his education, training, and experience, Jake's claim for a Total Permanent Disability benefit was accepted by the insurer MetLife and the MTAA Super trustee.
With the insurance payment, Jake can now afford the equipment and rehabilitation he needs for his injuries.
* MTAA Super and Tasplan merged to become Spirit Super on 1 April 2021.