"CROCODILE-infested waters" were the words used by an RACQ spokesperson to describe a situation two men found themselves in after their private chopper went down at a creek near Curtis Island on Saturday.
At about 3.50pm, the RACQ Capricorn Helicopter Rescue Service was tasked to a rescue mission in the Cape Keppel region after debris from a helicopter had been found washed up on the coast.
Bits and pieces included fishing items, eskies and personal items, which an RACQ spokesperson said were consistent with a distress situation at sea.
A second search flight was conducted around 10pm focusing on a particular area in the vicinity of Keppel creek.
The 12-hour search ended shortly after midnight and two badly injured men were found washed up on the beach nearby.
Both of the survivors were found in critical conditions, and even deadlier situations, an RACQ spokesperson said.
"One of the patients was unable to move due to spinal injuries and was at risk of being submerged by the incoming tide in crocodile infested waters," the spokesperson said.
"However, once on board the RACQ helicopter, a Queensland Ambulance Service critical care paramedic along with the aircrew provided life-saving medical assistance.
"Both patients were quickly prepared for flight and transported back to Rockhampton in a serious but stable condition for further treatment.
"The aircraft (the two men were travelling in) was carrying a personal distress beacon, however the survivors were unable to activate it due to it being located in the submerged helicopter."
Both men, a 56-year-old from Margate and a 61-year-old from Scarborough were transported to Rockhampton Hospital.
It is believed the helicopter experienced mechanical issues prior to crashing into the water around midday.
During the search for the helicopter and the two men, it was a trail of belongings that led them to wreckage.
This included a piece of luggage, which belonged to one of the men travelling in the Bell 206 JetRanger Helicopter.
It was handed over to the Queensland Police Service, who were then able to determine that the private helicopter had not arrived at its destination as planned and was overdue.
Two hours in, one of the RACQ helicopters, equipped with night vision goggles, found the submerged wreckage of a helicopter, associated with the last known position provided by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority.
It was only once the helicopter landed that the two survivors were also spotted.
A Rockhampton Hospital spokesperson said they were both in stable conditions and awaiting transfer to Brisbane.