Rescue at Red Rock

THE life-saving skills David Mack learned as a nipper were put to the test in a dramatic weekend surf rescue at Red Rock on Saturday.

David, a 27-year-old Perth-based ballet dancer who grew up here on the Coffs Coast, is all too familiar with the dangers of Little Beach, a picturesque spot he's visited since he was a toddler.

Thankfully, he was there again on Saturday morning visiting relatives when a rip emergency unfolded.

“A girl came running up to us screaming her friend had been washed out,” David told the Coffs Coast Advocate.

“My aunty's sister grabbed a life-saving ring at the southern end of the beach. She started running into the surf but she realised she couldn't swim well.

“I ran to the headland to find the girl and jumped off the rocks.”

The distressed bather, a 25-year-old Coffs Harbour woman who'd been camping with friends, was almost 100 metres offshore and was being swept around the headland.

David had to cover 20 metres in treacherous surf to reach her.

“She was beyond the point of panic. She was starting to look exhausted but she was still conscious and was still above the water,” he said.

“She'd tried to aim for the rocks to clamber onto them, with no luck.”

The woman grabbed David and he manoeuvred her into the life ring. She held on tight as he grabbed the rope and towed her. He tried to negotiate the rocks but then decided to swim across the fierce current until he could feel its power subside.

After what seemed an eternity for rescuer and victim alike, they struggled back to the beach, worn out and sporting cut feet.

“Every time you'd grab hold of the rocks, the waves would break over you,” David said.

“I was pretty knackered, but I'm pretty fit. I try to be anyway.

“She was fine, a bit exhausted though. She'd swallowed a fair bit of water.”

The woman was so appreciative she invited David back to her campsite for a drink later, but he wanted to get back to his 11-week-old newborn son Oscar and his wife Nicola.

He's adamant he's no hero, but we're sure the woman he saved begs to differ.

Senior Constable Alan Millward said she was a 'very lucky woman'.

“Little Beach is a known danger spot for bathers,” Const. Millward said.

“The problem is it presents as a pretty little beach.”

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