DANGEROUS RESCUE: James Wells, of Ballina, saved the lives of two boys caught along North Wall in Ballina over the weekend.
DANGEROUS RESCUE: James Wells, of Ballina, saved the lives of two boys caught along North Wall in Ballina over the weekend. Marc Stapelberg

Man rescues young boys from dangerous surf at Ballina

A YOUNG man's quick thinking at Ballina's North Wall may have saved two boys from drowning.

James Wells, an exercise physiologist at Train Hard, Eat Smart Ballina, arrived at Lighthouse Beach to go swimming on Friday morning but changed his mind because the conditions looked too dangerous.

He took up a spot on the quiet beach next to North Wall about 11.30am when he saw two boys, aged 11 and 13, making their way out for a swim.

"They looked pretty confident ... I sat here and watched them because it was pretty wild conditions," Mr Wells said.

"They didn't know. They ended up being two little country boys and they didn't have their parents here, they were at the caravan park."

He said while the beach was busy near the surf club further down, there was only one other family near the wall.

"I think they (the family) were a bit worried, which is what made me pay attention," Mr Wells said.

"I thought I'd go in because the kids started getting further and further out ... I thought I'd just go in and tell them to swim a bit closer.

"As soon as I got to the water they got caught in the gutter that runs from the breakwall and they started getting swept down the rocks. I just swam after them."

Mr Wells said if he reached the water only 20 seconds later, he may not have been able to reach the boys before they were pulled too far out.

"One of the boys was 11 years old and he was struggling a fair bit so I grabbed him, held onto him ... and I tried to swim out of there," he said.

"I was telling the other boy, who was 13 years old, to start swimming straight across out of it.

"We weren't going anywhere, we were going further out from the beach.

"We ended up coming to a point in the rocks where we could get close enough, then I just pushed him up on the rocks and jumped back in and grabbed the other boy and got to the rocks.

"I copped a few waves and finally got out of there.

"We were pretty lucky ... I was pretty scared. Once I got out there I didn't really know what to do."

The boys, in shock, didn't say too much about Mr Wells' quick thinking, but came back a short time later to say thanks.

"We had a bit of a chat afterwards and I said, 'don't go swimming now', and they sort of walked off," Mr Wells said.

"Then I think it hit them they were pretty lucky.

"They came back and shook my hand and said 'thanks so much'."



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