13 rescued then man drowns after life savers finish
A MAN, believed to be from Brisbane, passed away after disappearing in rough surf at Brunswick Heads after volunteer Surf Life Savers had finished their patrols for the day on Saturday.
The death marked a tragic end to what had been an exceptionally busy day, in which Surf Life Savers at Brunswick Heads saved 13 people who got in trouble swimming outside the flags.
Despite the patrol having finished for the day, life savers responded quickly to the beach when the alarm was raised that a man in his 20s was missing in the water.
Brunswick lifesavers found the man in the water and commenced CPR when they returned to shore. The man was taken to hospital by ambulance. However, he could not be revived.
On top of the 13 rescues, Brunswick Heads life savers also performed more than 100 preventative actions to try to keep people from getting into trouble during the day, Brunswick Club Captain John Shanks said.
There were also several rescues at Tallow Beach, Byron Bay, with one woman being taken to hospital.
Mr Shanks said conditions at Brunswick Heads were unstable after rough seas a week ago chewed into sandbanks, forming extra rip currents off the beach.
"It was probably the busiest day I can remember," he said.
"Fortunately for beach goers we had a team of around 10 lifesavers on patrol and many of them were very experienced older guys and some iron man competitors.
"It was pretty much non-stop all day. At one stage we did seven rescues in about 20 minutes."
For the club's volunteer lifesavers, it was an extremely sad end to a very busy day on the beach. To be confronted with a drowning after the patrol had finished was a sorry outcome for volunteers he said.
"We worked our backsides off all day, then to get the call that someone was missing and there was nothing we could do to save him really hits our guys hard," Mr Shanks said.
Far North Coast Emergency Coordinator Jimmy Keough, who was on scene and assisted with CPR attempts, praised life savers for finding the man so quickly and bringing him to shore.
He said it was a timely reminder of the need for people to swim only when patrols were on the beach.
"Our thoughts are with the family and friends of the victim and the Brunswick clubbies are very upset they couldn't save him, despite such a fast response to the callout," said Keough.
Brunswick volunteer lifesavers urged people to only swim between the flags.