Safety plea after beach tragedies
THREE drownings in the space of a week along with serious concerns over the welfare of a fourth person has prompted Surf Life Saving NSW to issue a safety plea ahead of what is expected to be a busy Christmas/New Year period.
With the three recent coastal drowning deaths, the NSW drowning toll now stands at 16, compared to 12 recorded in the corresponding period last year.
Surf Life Saving CEO Steven Pearce said it has been a difficult few days for the volunteers.
"I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the efforts of all our members who have been involved in responding to these emergencies or involved in the extensive search operations," he said.
"They have gone above and beyond the call of duty putting in the hours to help in any way possible.
"What these tragic incidents highlight is just how unpredictable the ocean can be, and our thoughts go out to everyone involved."
In the first incident which happened last Wednesday a man in his early 20s was pulled unconscious from the surf at Suffolk Park by a member of the public shortly before 12:30pm.
It appeared that the young man who was swimming at the time had got into difficulty in a rip current. Despite the best efforts of the first responders he was unable to be revived.
On Saturday three teenage swimmers got into difficulty at Flynn's Beach in Port Macquarie.
Two were rescued but unfortunately a 14-year-old boy was swept away sparking an intensive search effort involving multiple agencies. The search continues.
The third death occurred on Sunday afternoon at the unpatrolled Diggers Beach in Coffs Harbour after a woman went to the aid of family members who were caught in a powerful rip.
Additionally on the state's Far South Coast lifesavers have been involved in a significant search operation for a woman believed to be missing near Tuross Heads.
With thousands of families expected to flock to beaches all around NSW, lifesavers are encouraging people to make the extra effort and swim at a patrolled location.
"With Christmas just around the corner and a busy time expected on our beaches it's important that the public take heed of any safety messages," Mr Pearce said.
"The holidays are a great time to relax but it is also the time when families are away from home at unfamiliar beaches they may rarely or have never visited.
"Please talk to lifesavers and lifeguards who are there to help. If you are in any doubt about your own abilities or your ability to keep others safe, please don't take the risk.
"Our Christmas wish is for everyone to return home safely to their families these holidays," said Steven Pearce.