Mayhem as 10 are swept out to sea

DANGEROUS sea conditions led to dramatic rescues along our coastline yesterday.

Ten people were swept out to sea in two incidents at Lennox Head and Suffolk Park.

Rips and rough surf forced lifeguards at Lennox Head to close the beach at 1.30pm.

Despite this, 15 people participating in a surf school entered the water at 2.15pm, 100 metres south of the Lennox Head Surf Club.

Northern NSW Lifeguard co-ordinator Stephen Leahy said eight of them were immediately caught in a rip.

In a panic, the surf school participants let go of their boards and tried to swim against the rip. They were swept up to 150 metres out to sea.

The lifeguard on duty paddled out to assist the group while her brother, an off-duty lifeguard, swam out.

They managed to calm the group down, get them back on their boards, and bring them back to shore.

A second incident unfolded at 4pm on the beach in front of the Suffolk Park caravan park.

An 18-year-old school leaver went to the aid of a female English backpacker after seeing her in trouble out to sea.

Despite his best efforts, the young man was unable to help the woman and both found themselves at the mercy of a rip which dragged them 200 metres offshore.

Seeing the pair in trouble, a local resident paddled out on a surf board and brought them back to shore.

Both had swallowed a lot of water and were suffering from exhaustion.

The Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter was called to the scene but was not required, with the young man and woman taken by ambulance to Byron Bay Hospital.

Mr Leahy applauded the efforts and bravery of the young man in trying to rescue the woman.

He also praised the bravery of the local board rider, who managed to reach the pair before two inflatable rescue boats launched from Lennox Head and Byron Bay surf clubs.

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