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The Girl Who Lived tells harrowing story of surviving boat tragedy


  • TROELS SOMMERVILLE

  • MOORABBIN KINGSTON LEADER

  • DECEMBER 03, 2014 12:00AM

Susan Berg has written a memoir of her life, dealing with being the sole survivor of a boating accident in which both her parents and her brother died. Picture: Chris Eastman

NEARLY 30 years ago, Susan Berg was orphaned in a boating accident, and has now decided to tell her story.

Her book, The Girl Who Lived, is about the day in 1985 when she was the sole survivor when the family boat went down in Westernport Bay. Her father, Edwin Berg, mother, Valerie, and brother, Bill, all died in the accident.

Remembering her 15-year-old self was tough, especially­ remembering calling out to her family during­ the 3½ hour swim to land but not hearing anyone call back.

“Writing it was quite traumatic, but right now I am the happiest I have ever been,” she said. “I think that’s because I was able relive it and then package it up and put it behind me.”

The family left Warneet late on the afternoon of October 27, 1985 but soon into the journey the boat started taking on water and quickly sank.

After spending a few hours clinging to the hull they tried to swim to shore.

Ms Berg hit a sandbar one and a half hours into the swim, but the respite was temporary as the shifting tide swept it away and she continued to swim for another hour to get to French Island.

She had thought about writing the book for a long time and finally worked up the courage on a solo motorbike ride from Melbourne to Byron Bay.

“I thought maybe it could help others who had lived through tragedy realise that they could lead a happy, fulfilling life and that it doesn’t need to define you as a person.”


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