John Westacott, the longest-serving executive producer of 60 Minutes, passed away this Sunday after falling off a yacht in Sydney Harbor off Vaucluse. Read on to know how did John Westacott die, what happened to him, and what was the cause of his death.
Westacott was considered a legend in Sydney’s television industry. He had worked with Nine News for a period of 25+ years. Tributes have emerged for the late TV personality who was also a keen sailor.
What Happened to John Westacott?
John Westacott, the ex-Channel Nine boss, was on a yacht trip Sunday morning in the Sydney Harbour waters near the area of Neilson park in the eastern suburbs. However, an alleged medical episode took place and Westacott fell off the boat and into the deep waters.
NSW Police Marine Area Command pulled his body from the water at around 1:30 PM on Sunday, October 9, 2022. The rescuers tried their best to revive him but he was pronounced dead at the scene according to the New South Wales Police.
Westacott was traveling on the boat with another man who survived the incident. He was of a similar age to John.
How did John Westacott die?
John Westacott died on Sunday, October 9, 2022, after a suspected medical incident on a yacht on Sydney Harbour off Vaucluse. He was 73 years old. He was traveling on the boat with another man in the morning.
Westacott was an avid sailor and was often seen in the waters of Sydney. His body was pulled out of the water by the rescuers who also tried their best to revive the late TV personality. Unfortunately, Westacott passed away at the scene.
What was John Westacott’s Cause of Death?
The exact cause of John Westacott’s death is unannounced at the time of writing. An autopsy will be performed on his body to determine the specific cause of death. There are speculations about a medical episode such as cardiac arrest, stroke, etc, that could have led to him falling off the boat.
Westacott was a keen sailor and knew how to swim very well. If there wasn’t a medical episode, he could have simply swum back to the boat even after falling. The autopsy reports will confirm if John Westacott died of drowning or if he died of other causes.
John Westacott was a Celebrated TV Personality in Sydney
Westacott had spent around 25 years with Channel Nine and is best known for his work at “60 Minutes.” He had been an executive producer for the network’s flagship investigative current affairs program before retiring in 2009.
He later returned to the network as a consultant under CEO David Gyngell before going redundant in 2012. Previously, Westacott became Channel Nine’s director of news and current affairs to replace Garry Linnell.
He was always regarded as the most experienced TV news person in all of Sydney, and a massive TV name in Australia. His brave and outspoken presentations will be remembered forever by the viewers.
Westacott was once accused of offensive and sexist remarks
In 2008, Los Angeles correspondent Christine Spiteri launched an unfair dismissal and sexual discrimination claim against John Westacott where she cited language used by him.
Westacott was accused of making offensive and sexist remarks to female journalists. At a book launch event in 2007, he had told a group of female journalists that they were hired only for their s#x appeal.
The matter settled eventually with Spiteri allegedly receiving a six-figure sum while Westacott got a mark on his legacy.
Nine News Pays an Emotional Tribute to John Westacott
John Westacott’s untimely death has triggered a series of tributes on social media led by Nine News. Michael Healy, Nine’s Director of TV, and Darren Wick, Nine’s National Director of News and Current Affairs released a joint statement following his demise.
John Westacott was a trailblazer of Australian journalism.
“The longest-serving and most successful Executive Producer of 60 Minutes, a driving force of A Current Affair and a visionary with Nine as the National Director of News and Current Affairs.
“Westy was an enigma. There was no-one like him. He didn’t care about political correctness and would publicly declare that.
“He didn’t care where you came from, nor about your gender, ethnicity or religious and political beliefs. He cared about whether you had the passion and ability to tell a great story.
“His lifelong love was 60 Minutes. He was fearless as he pushed his team to report some of the greatest stories and interviews Australians have ever seen. And he was ferocious in defending his team against any criticism – externally and internally.
“Westy had a laser-like focus and an incredible intuition on what 60 Minutes meant to Australian viewers and what they wanted to see from the program every Sunday night.
“During his later years with Nine, as the Head of News and Current Affairs, he was the driving force behind bringing Peter Overton into the seat as the anchor of the Sydney 6pm News. He saw well into the future when others didn’t.
“He understood the integrity and authenticity that Peter would bring to Nine News and set it apart from the rest. The fact that the 6pm Sydney bulletin has dominated the News for the past 12 years is a testament to the vision that John Westacott brought to Nine.
“He was no saint and had a devilish sense of humour and was a master of mischief.
“But he was a journalist’s journo and always a generous source of knowledge and insight.
“Westy made Nine a better place. He was a big vision, big picture person who made us all reach for the stars and land on them.
“We will miss him,” the statement concluded.
Several other personalities and fans joined them to pay respect to Westacott.
John Westacott is survived by his wife Cecile and two sons.
Our heart goes out to them. May God let the departed soul rest easy.