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Byron Shire
May 16, 2021

‘Freak’ conditions led to boy’s death at Ballina beach

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[Update Monday, 8.45am]

The giant wave which swept a six-year-old Brisbane boy into the ocean and led to his drowning at South Ballina Beach on Saturday afternoon was a ‘freak occurrence’, according to lifesavers.

The boy, who is yet to be named, was on holiday with his family and walking along the remote beach when the wave swept them away about 1pm on Saturday. His father rushed into the rough surf but found him floating face down in the water.

Surf Life Saving Far North Coast duty officer Jimmy Keough told Fairfax Media that the older brother had managed to cling to a break wall as he was carried out to sea by the wave.

Two fisherman heard the father’s cries for help and pulled the boy from the water. Paramedics tried to resuscitate him and he was airlifted to Gold Coast University Hospital, where he later died.

The father and older boy suffered cuts and were taken to Ballina Hospital for treatment.

Mr Keough told Fairfax Media the boys had been wading in shallows close to the Richmond River break wall when the wave crashed onto the shore.

He said that while it was a ‘freak occurrence’, the weekend storm front had whipped up dangerous and treacherous conditions over Friday and Saturday.

It is the third death at the beach in four years. In 2010, parents Carole and Joseph Shelly drowned after being caught in a strong rip there when they tried to help their children struggling in the wild surf.

[Earlier report]

A six-year-old boy has died after being swept into the ocean at South Ballina Beach this afternoon (Saturday).

Shortly after 1pm, emergency services were called to South Ballina Beach after reports of a child in the water.

Police officers attached to Richmond Local Area Command were told the boy was walking along the beach with his father and older brother when he was swept into the water.

He was rescued by fishermen a short time later, before NSW Ambulance paramedics began to apply CPR.

The boy was airlifted to Gold Coast University Hospital in a critical condition where he later died.

His father and brother were not injured but were taken to Ballina Hospital for assessment.

Police are investigating the incident and a report will be prepared for the Coroner.

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