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Byron Shire
May 18, 2021

Man drowns in rough surf at Brunswick Heads

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A 27-year-old Brisbane man drowned in rough seas at Brunswick Heads late on Saturday afternoon, in one of the busiest days for lifesavers on the beach.

Brunswick Surf Life Saving Club volunteers were unable to revive a man who was pulled from the surf at around 5pm, after they finished patrol for the day.

Lifesavers responded quickly when the alarm was raised that a man in his 20s was missing in the water.

A jetski was used to find the man in the water and bring him to shore where CPR efforts were startedd.

He was taken to hospital by ambulance but could not be revived.

The Brunswick surf club captain John Shanks said it was an extremely sad end to a very busy day on the beach with a total of 13 rescues conducted earlier in the day on the run-out tide, all outside the flags.

Lifesavers performed more than 100 preventative actions to try to keep people from getting into trouble.

Mr Shanks said the conditions were very unstable after rough seas a week ago had affected sandbanks and extra rip currents had formed off the beach.

‘It was probably the busiest day I can remember,’ said Shanks.

‘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 ironman competitors.

‘It was pretty much non-stop all day. At one stage we did seven rescues in about 20 minutes.’

‘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.’

Far North Coast emergency coordinator Jimmy Keough, who was on scene and assisted with CPR attempts, said the lifesavers did a great job to locate the man so quickly and bring him to shore, but 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 will be back on the beach today and are urging people to only swim between the flags.

Meanwhile, the Westpac Life Saver rescue helicopter resoponded to a creport ofn three persons caught ibn a rip at Suffolk Park earlier on Saturday afternoon.

But the swimmers were rescued by local board riders and the chopper was not required. Ambulance paramedics called to the scene assessed the three and transported one of them to Byron Bay Hospital for a check up.


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  1. I’m one of the board riders that saved the lady’s at Suffolk Park on Saturday.

    Hope you all are OK.




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