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Australian government will not ask Abby Sunderland to pay back rescue costs

Abby Sunderland's family posted a message on the 16-year-old sailor's blog denying media reports that the Australian government would be seeking compensation for its search-and-rescue efforts.

The government commissioned a Qantas Airways jetliner to fly over the Indian Ocean as part of the search for Sunderland. That jet, loaded with dozens of harbor patrol spotters, was the first to make radio contact with Sunderland and confirm that she was alive and well late Thursday.

On the blog, search and rescuers from Perth wrote:

"Australia like the U.S. have always responded to request for help and have provided whatever resources are required. At no stage have we asked for cost recovery. Likewise domestic search and rescue have never requested payment for services. If a person wishes to make a contribution to the costs then that is their call. It is not expected or asked for.

Let's not let the media portray the many groups that were involved in Abby's rescue as a bunch of people motivated and driven by money. This is not the case."

The blog also includes clarification from Sunderland's parents about a potential reality show deal with Magnetic Entertainment, a Studio City-based production company. The idea -- to produce an inspiring show about their children's sailing adventures and the family -- was shopped, but not sold. After that, the rights were returned to them, her parents noted.

"There is no reality TV show or documentary in the works and we will not be pursuing one. We find it ironic that the media, who are spreading gossip and sensationalizing Abby's story for profit, have the nerve to criticize us for supposedly doing the same thing -- very ironic," they wrote.

Sunderland was attempting to circumnavigate the globe alone when she hit three-story-high waves last Thursday. The rough seas snapped her mast, triggering a tense search and a rescue by a French fishing boat. Her rescue boat made a stop at the remote Kerguelen Islands off the coast of Antarctica on Tuesday. She is expected to be reunited with her family in several days.

-- Kimi Yoshino

Comments () | Archives (17)

They shouldn't have to ask. The Sunderlands and Abby should OFFER!

There may not be any reality shows but Abby and her parents can still profit by making appearances on talk shows and the news media.

My god what is wrong with the world? The media is absolutely evil these days, with their tendency to exploitation and falsehoods. And since when is anyone ever required to pay, or to offer to pay, for RESCUE? It is an honor and a thrill to be able to rescue someone, as I'm sure it indeed was for all who were involved in this one.

WOW!.... Imagine that! Good Samaritans...
I guess there are still people in this world who actually do good things and don't expect payment or put a price on saving a human life... Bravo! And Thank you Australia and Perth... Sounds like a place that still has compassion... We could all take a lesson.

Let this fine respectable family be. If they chose to go on interview shows, or make a show that's their business, but I believe the father, his son Zac who already sailed around the world last year who I followed on his journey and contributed. This is a fine decent family, let them be please.

Of course the parents should offer and pay! How could you possibly not take the worst case scenerio (exactly what happened) into consideration when budgeting for a stupid thing like what these people let a 16 year old attempt.

IF the Sunderlands make ANY money off of this situation then by all means they should offer to repay the rescue orgnization or donate an equal sum to a charity which benefits the children of Australia. It would be the right thing to do.

..and why shouldn't they? This IS a great story of a young woman's dream. Better than hearing stories of Lindsay Lohan or other Hollywood types that infiltrate the news! Geez - a posive roll model for teens and young adults! Who would have thunk???? I'll buy Abby's book and if given the opportunity, pay to hear her tell her amazing story!

What is up with all the hatred towards the Sunderlands??? Not one of you said anything negative about her brother, oh, no. But heaven forbid Abby's mast was taken out by a storm and now everyone wants to crucify them all. What a bunch of losers you all are!

And it's really none of your business HOW the Aussies handle their money and rescue efforts. You all act as if you personally contributed something other than your nasty attitudes! Get a life people!!!

The reason why Australia won't ask for money back is because they aren't stupid like us. They help people because it's their job and the right thing to do. It's only humane.

I still think Abby's "parents" should face child endangerment charges. After all, she is still underage and in their care. Something should be done here. This is blatant irresponsibility!

Abby Sunderland did what many people just do not have the courage to do, and it is unfortunate that her sailing vessel was not constructed to withstand the violence of the Indian Ocean, and that is the only thing wrong with her idea and venture.

In addition, it was very thoughtful of the Australian Government to pay the life-saving part in the rescue of Abby Sunderland, and things happen, because they should, including this rescue mission, because someone had to come up with the idea what steps were necessary to locate and save Abby, and one never knows when the ideas of this incident may be necessary for another one involving more people.

Therefore, the way I see it, both Abby Sunderland and the Australian Government are entitled to an applause.

Say you are driving on the freeway during a thunderstorm. If you caused an accident, are you responsible for directly paying for the cost of CHP, ambulance, CalTrans, and the money people are losing while they are stuck in traffic because of you? Are you reckless for driving during a thunderstorm? They typically close the roads when it gets too bad so you won't kill yourself, but if they didn't, would you know any better than not to?

Given the public exposure, it'd be great if they could make a charitable contribution to an Australia organization, but that can come later when she starts selling the book.

No doubt Abby is a good sailor. The issue here is one of poor judgement. She should not have been where she was at this time of year. Some argue that the boat was inappropriate.

She and her parents should lose the defensive tone, acknowledge that they exercised poor judgement, and apologize to the rescuers who took a risk to save her. And pay for some of the cost of the rescue too.

I don't know what it is with these people. Perhaps it is their religious bent. Evidently Abby set off despite the time of year because they prayed about it and felt God's approval. Ergo, if the adventure was sanctioned by God, then how can there be any mistake? Not the first time I've seen people make stupid decisions because they mistake their own feelings for divine inspiration.

The Australian sailor, Jessica had insurance when she took her solo trip. That is the difference.

The reason why LA Times is so amazed and asked that question, it that they are used to Democrats, in government, trying to extort money from people they think are rich.

LA Times... it's the Australian Government... I know it's confusing... but it's actually a different country...

Do Australian taxpayers feel the same? I remember them being pretty angry about the costs incurred with the Steve Fosset rescue a few years back


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