Tributes to drowning victim

GRANT Hornby, the body boarder who drowned at Sawtell over the weekend, has been fondly remembered by friends and family, as the community comes to grips with the tragedy.

A group of girls, who knew Grant and raised the alarm after he got into trouble, yesterday returned to the scene to reflect.

The 28-year-old was pulled from the water on the south side of Sawtell Headland in a search and rescue effort mounted by lifeguard Sonny Tisdell and members of the Sawtell Surf Life Saving Club.

CPR was administrated and he was rushed to Coffs Harbour Hospital but he was unable to be revived.

It is understood Grant became detached from his board shortly after he entered the water alone, at the mouth of Bonville Creek just before 3pm.

He was eventually swept some 500 metres down the beach.

The five girls, who witnessed the incident, quickly sought help.

"We went through Grant’s bag and found his mobile and scrolled through it and rang every number we could," witness Emma Wilson said.

"We spoke to Grant’s brother in Sydney and got his parents number, we called them and spoke to Grant’s other brother and the family rushed to the headland," she said.

Panicked by the unfolding drama, Emma and her friend Georgia Emmanuel drove to the Sawtell Surf Life Saving Club.

Minutes later Sonny Tisdell paddled his board across the creek and ran down the beach, as two IRBs from the surf club joined the search.

The quick rescue response was commended by Coffs Harbour City Council’s head lifeguard Greg Hackfath.

Despite their efforts to help, the girls say they have been left to question whether they did enough, in a trying situation.

"We are beside ourselves," Layana Uikelotu said.

"I feel so bad, I wonder could we have done anything more for him."

The girls said they yesterday visited Grant’s family to explain exactly what happened.

It is understood funeral arrangements are being made and surfing buddies of Grant’s have organised a paddle-out in memory of their friend on the southside of Sawtell Headland next Sunday at 9am.

Nicknamed Hot Dog, he was remembered as a man, who "always had a smile on his face."

Among the many messages posted on Facebook since his drowning, friends and family stressed their grief at his sudden passing.

"Rest In Peace My Big Cousin. I’m so shocked I don’t know what to feel. Will miss you dearly. Forever in Our Hearts. Xxxx," wrote Marie Gordon.

"I give all my sympathy to the family, a truly nice bloke wouldn’t let anything get him down and by far one of the nicest people I have ever met, alot of people are going to miss you, there was alot of tears yesterday at the headland," - Jake Zahner.

"Grant u will be sadly missed by so many people," - Trisha Jae.

"Grant everyone is thinking of you," - Taylor-jayne Gardiner.

"Brotherr, You’ll be missed! ?," - Bailey Long.

"Rest in peace baby, sawty will not be the same without you, your Always going to be in out hearts ?," - Lucy-kate Beasley.

"Grant cant believe your gone Sawtell will be nothin with out you your always in my heart ?," - James Swan.

"You Will Never Be Forgotten. You Will Always Live On, Be at Peace," - Nath Delaney.

"Condolences to your family and friends. May god hold you safe in his hands," - Keely Ward.

"Thanks heaps means alot to the family," David Gordon wrote.

 To leave a comment on Grant's tribute page click here.

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