Two men have drowned and one remains missing at a North Coast beach during heavy weather on Monday night (December 17).
At about 6.15pm, a group of six people, including three teenagers, got into trouble in the surf at Moonee Beach, north of Coffs Harbour.
The group of swimmers got into trouble some 300 metres from shore at the southern end of Moonee Beach.
Off-duty Coffs Harbour Lifeguards responded promptly along with the Surf Life Saving North Coast Duty Officer and Westpac Lifesaver Rescue Helicopter.
Lifeguards identified six people in the water as they conducted the mass rescue with rescue boards.All six are from Sydney and are known to each other.
Two men, aged 35 and 45, were rescued from the water but were unable to be resuscitated. A third man, aged 28, remains missing.
Two girls, aged 15 and 17, and a 15-year-old boy, were rescued from the water and taken to Coffs Harbour Hospital, where they remain in a serious condition.
An air and water search was then conducted and continued until dark.
Police Marine Area Command along with Surf Life Saving assets including jetskis, IRB’s and the SLSNW UAV team commenced a search for the missing person again at 7am on Tuesday morning.
‘Our thoughts and hearts go out to the family of the victims and to the brave lifeguards that responded and tried valiantly to save everyone,’ said SLSNSW CEO Steven Pearce.
‘This terrible tragedy highlights the importance of swimming at patrolled locations and understanding how to identify rips and the dangers they present. An event like this unfolding so close to the festive season only magnifies the grief and devastation.’
Officers from Coffs/Clarence Police District are investigating the incident and a report will be prepared for the Coroner.
Anyone with information about this incident is urged to contact Crime Stoppers: 1800 333 000 or https://nsw.crimestoppers.com.au.