DROWNED HERO DESERVES MEDAL
By ALEX EASTON
NIMBIN man Joshua Le Bars died a hero's death, but a year later his family is still waiting for recognition of his bravery.
It was a year ago last Monday that Joshua, 24, flung himself into the surf on the Gold Coast to rescue his 13-year-old sister and his partner's 10-year-old son after a sandbank collapsed underneath them.
The rescue succeeded. In an act of bravery and sacrifice that still wrenches his family with a mix of grief and pride, Joshua grabbed the two children and flung them towards the beach with such force, his father, Paul, said they actually flew out of the water.
But in doing so, Joshua was himself caught by the powerful suction of the collapsing sandbank and, having given all his strength to the rescue, was dragged under, knocked unconscious and drowned.
Paul Le Bars said his son died as he lived.
"He was really well respected by the Nimbin community," he said. "He had a very giving nature and a strong compassion for his fellow man."
Joshua's death came on top of the death of his big brother, Marcel, in a car crash at Lennox Head four years earlier.
Mr Le Bars said the family had only barely started coming to terms with Marcel's death when they lost Joshua.
"We had only scattered the ashes of my eldest son on the fifth of February; five years to the day that he died."
Joshua, who was born in a house atop Mt Nardi, had lived in Melbourne for several years before returning with his fianc?e, Gabrielle Bynon, to raise a family in Nimbin.
The couple had a two-year-old daughter, Panama-Pearl, when he died. "It was like they were surgically attached," Mr Le Bars said. "There was nothing like seeing my proud son walking down the road with his beautiful child."
While his life was rich in relationships in many ways, Joshua had not walked an easy path.
He and Gabrielle had not long bought a house together in Nimbin when he died, and Joshua was working three jobs ? as a night manager at the local pub, as a street cleaner, and running his own business as a carpet cleaner ? to make ends meet.
"He had some pretty hefty responsibilities in the mortgage and the upkeep of the house, but he always managed time for the family," Mr Le Bars said.
Joshua's death has not gone unnoticed in the outside world. Mr Le Bars said he and the rest of his family discovered recently that a commercial television channel was including it in a documentary on surf life saving, which is to be screened this year.
However, his sacrifice had received no official recognition, despite Queensland Police officers telling Mr Le Bars and Joshua's mother, Alison Parker, they intended to nominate him for one.
"He should be given one. He lay down his life for two other lives. That's a pretty full-on thing," he said.
"I would like to find some way of getting some sort of honour medal for him."
A spokesperson for the Queensland Police honours department will be available for comment today.
Mr Le Bars, who organises Nimbin's Anzac Day service, said Joshua's death showed the Anzac spirit resided in ordinary Australian people.
"He gave freely, without concern for himself, to save the lives of two beautiful young kids," Mr Le Bars said. "That's the highest gift anyone can give and it shows that the Anzac spirit resides in all Australians. He's a real hero in my eyes."