A Gold Coast physiotherapist has revealed the chance encounter he had with Alex ‘Chumpy’ Pullin before his tragic death, and the text messages he received from the Winter Olympics star.
Snowboarding champion Pullin died while spearfishing along an artificial reef off Palm Beach on the Gold Coast last week.
‘DOESN’T MAKE SENSE’: Neighbour's shock over Chumpy tragedy
The 32-year-old was dragged from the water unconscious around 10.40am last Wednesday and paramedics spent 45 minutes trying to revive him.
Gold Coast District Chief Superintendent Mark Wheeler said an investigation into his death is underway, with a report to be prepared for the coroner.
It is believed Pullin suffered a ‘shallow-water blackout’ after trying to hold his breath for too long.
In the aftermath of the tragedy, Gold Coast physiotherapist Scott Johnstone detailed how he met Pullin days before and shared a number of text messages with him.
“Instantly I recognised him and was pretty star struck as I had been a big fan of his career and admired his training methods over the years,” Johnstone wrote on social media.
“A true Australian sporting legend and it (was) just me and him trading waves on my favourite wave.
“He was stoked on the water clarity and was talking about how good a day it would be for spearfishing on the reef.
“He was pumped about his hobby and the feeling it gave to bring home fish to his partner and friends.”
Chumpy texts reveal excitement for reef
Johnstone also revealed a text he received from Pullin in which he was champing at the bit to get out on the reef.
“I'm so keen to score the reef again when it picks up! Man that was fun,” Johnstone says Pullin texted.
The physiotherapist described Pullin as a “humble legend”.
“We came in at the same time, caught a few on the beachy and walked up to the showers together. He shook my hand and introduced himself again as 'Chumpy',” Johnstone continued.
“I thought to myself what an absolute humble legend - I already know who you are man, haha, I have watched you win World Championships and compete in the Olympics. I have been inspired seeing your training and agility work for years.
“I thought to myself what an absolute humble legend.
“We spoke during the week about our session, about surfing the reef again and he was quick to offer advice about spearfishing gear.
“Personally, I am going to be calling Palmy Reef 'Chumpy's Reef’. No session will ever be the same again out here with what has happened but I can only try to remember the vibe.”
Police launch investigation into Chumpy’s death
Last week police said they were trying to determine if Pullin's death was preventable.
“It was an extremely tragic set of circumstances and our hearts go out to Alex's family and friends and loved ones,” Supt Wheeler said.
“We want to determine why it happened, whether there are underlying medical conditions and whether there has been a miscalculation by someone or something.
“And what we want to do is give closure to the family, give the family answers and really important to see there is anything systemic to prevent it from happening again.”
Pullin was the flag-bearer for Australia at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
Known affectionately as Chumpy, Pullin won world championship titles in 2011 and 2013, and nine World Cup gold medals.