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Man drowns trying to rescue swimmers caught in Fingal rip

The beach at Fingal Head where a man drowned today.
The beach at Fingal Head where a man drowned today. Nolan Verheij-Full

A MAN has died after being swept into the ocean 800m south of the patrolled area at Fingal Head this afternoon.

Surf Life Saving Far North Coast Emergency Service Coordinator Jimmy Keough said two men, a woman and a girl appeared to have been swimming south of the Fingal Headland at Dreamtime Beach when the emergency call came through at 3.42pm.

He said all four swimmers were being swept around to the north of the headland and were in distress.

Fingal Rovers Surf Life Saving Club were the first emergency personnel on scene, after responding from the flagged area just 800m north of the incident.

One man, an unconscious woman, and a girl, 7, were all being supported in the water by members of the public when they arrived.

The second man, believed to be 25 to 30 years of age, was being helped by a surfer.

"He was unconscious and unresponsive," Mr Keough said.

"The four persons were assisted to shore and CPR was commenced on the unconscious male and female."

He said further treatment took place when ambulance paramedics arrived.

The woman became conscious at the scene and was taken to Tweed Hospital, along with the girl, in a serious but stable condition. They have since been released from hospital.

"One adult male was later pronounced deceased on scene," Mr Keough said.

Mr Keough said it's believed the deceased man may have been trying to help one of the swimmers to safety.

Tweed Acting Inspector Chad Deegenaars confirmed the deceased as a 30-year-old man from Palm Beach on the Gold Coast.

"It appears the girl was in distress and the man has gone in to help her," Insp Deegenaars said.

"It is very tragic indeed."

 

Jimmy Keough, surf life saving Far North Coast.
Jimmy Keough, surf life saving Far North Coast. Mireille Merlet-Shaw

The tragedy was a devastating start to the Easter long weekend for the coast, but Mr Keough said the situation could have been compounded if members of the public hadn't acted quickly.

"We have had a tragedy but it could have been far worse than it was, without the prompt reaction of some of the member of the public in the area," he said.

He urged beachgoers to take care and only swim on patrolled beaches to avoid further tragedies.

"It's a very tragic start to this time of year," he said.

"We are asking people to take care over the coming days.

"We recommend they swim between the red and yellow flags and follow all directions given by life savers and lifeguards on duty."

Cudgen Headland Surf Life Saving Club, police and Queensland Surf Life Saving were also tasked to assist.

In Ballina, surf life savers rushed to the rescue of a rock fisherman who was swept into the ocean at the exact same time.

"Thankfully, he was wearing a life jacket," Mr Keough said.

Mr Keough said three people were also rescued after getting into trouble in the water at Iluka earlier today.

It's not yet known whether any of the swimmers were locals to the area.

The tragedy comes after New Zealand woman Aggie Auelua drowned at Fingal last October as she jumped into the water to save a young local boy who had been swept off the rocks.

Topics:  drowning, editors picks, fingal head



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