Hectic Easter on beaches: North Coast life savers hammered
THE tragic drowning of a man coming to the aid of a family of three at Fingal, another person pulled semi-conscious from the surf at Duranbah, boats in trouble of Brunswick, and a rock fisherman thrown into the water at Boulders.
These were the main emergencies in a horror weekend for Far North Coast lifesavers over Easter, which kept volunteers on their toes and off the sand.
The combination of classic early autumn weather, light winds and warm water drew crowds in their thousands to beaches across the North Coast and recreational fisherman offshore, resulting in a number of emergencies relative to the crowds.
Far North Coast Surf Life Saving duty officer Chris Samuels said Friday and Monday were the peak days.
The tragic incident at Fingal Head unfolded on Friday afternoon when three people including a young girl were washed off rocks on the south side of the headland, and a number of people entered the water to attempt a rescue.
A 30 year old Gold Coast man was later pulled from the water and surf life savers attempted CPR but the man was declared dead a short time later.
Also on Friday at about 3.30pm a rock fisherman was washed off the rocks at Boulder Beach, near Lennox Head.
Life savers on jet skis were tasked, and the man was able to get himself out of the water unassisted. It was not known whether he was wearing a life vest.
Then on Friday night, a recreational fishing vessel broke down offshore, with one of the two occupants swam back to shore to raise the alarm. Brunswick Heads Marine Rescue were unavailable so the Ballina Jet Boat crew was tasked to retrieve the remaining person.
They rescued the occupant, secured the boat overnight and the next morning returned to save the boat.
Between the flags life savers were also run off their feet, with the high volume of people stretching resources.
"We're the busiest branch in all of NSW," Mr Samuels noted.
"At the moment we're sitting at about 180 emergency taskings, whereas Sydney branches are only about 90-100 emergency taskings."
Volunteer life savers will continue to patrol the main beaches until the end of the Anzac Day weekend next month, and lifeguards will also be stationed at Lennox Head during the school holidays.
Byron Bay Main Beach now has professional life guards on patrol throughout the year.