In what was a tragic end to Christmas Day, a young man has drowned at Flagstaff Beach, near the Queensland border, despite the best efforts of emergency responders.
The incident occurred just after 4:30pm on Monday at the central part of the beach when a group of seven men got into difficulty while enjoying an afternoon swim.
It is understood that the group aged from their mid-twenties to early-thirties were tourists visiting the area.
Lifeguards from Duranbah, who were patrolling the flagged area, raced to the scene and rescued one of the men.
By that time it was clear that a mass rescue was required with at least five more people clearly in distress.
A second lifeguard entered the water with a rescue board and was able to ferry four of the swimmers to shore.
During a third entry into the water a further two men were rescued. It was then that the lifeguards spotted the last of the group unconscious. They pulled him from the water and began administering emergency treatment.
In an impressive display of interagency cooperation emergency assets including Paramedics and Police rushed to the scene.
Patrolling lifesavers from Fingal Rovers SLSC, two Far North Coast duty officers, and a support jet ski from Queensland also responded to provide assistance.
Despite extensive CPR, all efforts to revive the distressed swimmer were unsuccessful. A further three men have been transported to hospital for treatment.
SLSNSW CEO Steven Pearce said, ‘Christmas Day is special for the community and any tragedy is magnified on a day like this. The lifeguards and lifesavers involved all put in a heroic effort to save this young man’s life, but unfortunately were unable to do so.’
‘This tragedy reinforces why we are so determined to ensure that our safety messages are heard and understood.
‘Our sincere thoughts and sympathies are with the man’s family and friends at this sad time,’ he said.
The incident is the 17th coastal drowning since July. Mr Pearce said the rising figure was a concern for the entire surf life saving community.