BRISBANE, Australia – The pair of scuba divers stranded at sea for nearly 24 hours before they were rescued will help pay for the cost of saving them after reportedly selling their story for more than $1 million, according to The Australian.
British diver Richard Neely, 38, and his American partner Allyson Dalton, 40, have negotiated a deal with the U.K.'s Sunday Mirror for between $1 million and $2 million for their account of being stranded on the open ocean during a diving expedition on Australia's Great Barrier Reef, according to media reports.
Their representative says they'll contribute to the rescue effort.
"They are covered by insurance, so it will cover the cost of the rescue and they will be happy to make any donation necessary," celebrity agent Max Markson, who has retained the couple as clients, told The Australian.
There were conflicting reports as to how much Neely and Dalton have been paid for their story.
The Australian said the sum was $1.1 million, while the U.K.'s Daily Mail had the figure at £1 million, or nearly $2 million.
Couriermail.com.au has reported that the amount was under $10,000 but the couple were negotiating interviews with various press outlets around the world that could land them $250,000.
The story the divers have told was also in dispute, according to the Mail.
Neely and Dalton said that conditions were stormy and the seas were rough as they tried — and failed — to make their way back to their boat. But a crewmember aboard the chartered diving vessel disagreed, saying the waters were calm.
The pair were diving on the Great Barrier Reef on Friday and surfaced too far away for those on the boat to see them or hear their calls for help. They were rescued 19 hours later, nearly 8 nautical miles from where they'd last been seen.
The couple tied their wetsuits together and huddled to share body heat during their time adrift in 75-degree waters, Neely told the Sunday Mirror.
A probe has been launched into why it reportedly took the dive company about three hours to alert authorities that the two were lost, according to The Australian.
Many expressed outrage that Neely and Dalton were cashing in on their ordeal mere hours after they were found, and calls escalated for them to help pay for the expensive rescue effort — which involved seven helicopters, three planes and six boats, the paper reported.
"If they are going to profit from their story I don't think a contribution back would go astray," Queensland, Australia, Premier Anna Bligh told reporters. "It would be a very welcome gesture."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.