Thirty years is a very long time. But for CareFlight’s past-patient Libby Bleakley, it was a reunion well worth the wait as she reunited with John Hoad – CareFlight’s cofounder and also the pilot that saved her life.

There wasn’t a dry eye to be seen at CareFlight’s Westmead base, on Friday 29 July 2022, as Libby reunited with Hoady.

Libby leapt at the chance to give John a big hug – it’s the moment that Libby had been waiting to say, “thank you for giving me 30 extra years of my life!”

Rewind to the day of the incident

In December 1992, Libby’s scuba diving accident sent her from being 60 feet deep off the shores of Jervis Bay to suddenly being torpedoed into the air.

Directly before the accident, Libby remembers checking her air gauge, as it was low, and that she lay flat in the water to let a massive manta ray pass above her.

Trying to get the air out of her lungs, Libby desperately tried to resurface, but panicked. Surfacing too rapidly, Libby suffered from decompression “the bends”, barotrauma and a blockage to the brain.

Pulled from the water by nearby off-duty ambulance officers, Libby was soon airlifted to Prince Henry Hospital (in Little Bay, Sydney) by CareFlight.

Road to recovery

Libby’s road to recovery is a story of inspiration and determination – she learnt to walk again, regained her memory, pulled through depression and came back to work after only one month of recuperating.

Libby’s determination is through her passion in working with domestic violence victims, in which she went on to spearhead the first domestic violence victim’s support unit within NSW Police.

In 2019, Libby wrote her first book titled On a Mission: Strength, Resilience, Compassion – Policing with Attitude which inspires readers that people are strong and that there is help going through challenging times.

Fast forward to today 

Today, Libby’s passion for the community and her previous work in Timor Leste, sees her running a coffee roasting business – Roasters with Altitude – to raise funds for a Learning Centre in Timor Leste.

Libby’s full story will be featured at CareFlight’s Evolution Ball on Saturday 24 September, 2022. If you would like to support the Evolution Ball please contact

Watch as Libby reunites with CareFlight cofounder and pilot John Hoad Libby Bleakley's reunion