FAR North Coast lifeguard supervisor Peter Baird at Cabarita Beach yesterday.
FAR North Coast lifeguard supervisor Peter Baird at Cabarita Beach yesterday.

Beaches require ?paid lifeguards

By Leonie Brann

Another death on Tweed Coast beaches has prompted the Far North Coast's top lifeguard to call for round-the-year patrols of the area's popular surf spots.

The drowning of Chinderah teen Corey McDowell, whose body was found on Monday floating in the water 3km north from were he went missing at Norries Head on Saturday, has renewed calls for more to be done about improving beach safety on the Tweed Coast.

The 15-year-old Year 10 student from Kingscliff High School is the second person to drown on Tweed Coast beaches in the last four months, said Far North Coast lifeguard supervisor Peter Baid.

"The bare minium should be paid lifeguards, provided for at least seven months of the year, from September to April," Mr Baird said.

Currently, Cabarita Beach has full-time paid lifeguards for six weeks over the Christmas period, and four days over the Easter longweekend, he said.

"If it means that the Tweed Coast has to become like the Gold Coast and make the lifeguards an in-house service (as council employees), then so be it. More needs to be done before more lives are lost."

A lack of adequate signage at Cabarita Beach, which is rated by Surf Life Saving Australia as a six, or of moderate danger in normal conditions, as well as other Tweed Coast beaches, should also be addressed by council, Mr Baird said.

"I have not spoken with Tweed Shire Council (about the drowning), but I plan to.

"Ultimately, council has responsibility for the beaches.

"It is only a matter of time that someone catches on to council not providing adequate safety signage and warnings and sues council if something happens.

"There should be a full audit of all Tweed Coast beaches which looks at beach usage, signage and lifeguard levels to have a better idea of the kind of service that needs to be provided by council.

"Tweed council is the only council in the area that has not installed the Australian standard beach signage.

"They need to warn people of the dangers and hazards, otherwise people might not think there are any."

Tweed Shire Council is in the process of preparing a 20-year plan for the provision of lifeguard services on the Tweed Coast. A committee of lifeguard volunteers and council officers is also planned to further discuss the issue.

Due to the Anzac Day public holiday yesterday, a spokesperson for council could not be contacted.

The body of Corey McDowell, was found by the Gold Coast Westpac Rescue Helicopter just beyond the surf line at Bogangar Beach at 12.45pm, on Monday.

Volunteer lifeguard and other rescue services, including a police helicopter, had worked all weekend in harsh conditions and into the night on Saturday to find the missing teen.

Mr Baird said it is believed Corey was sucked into an underwater cave on the south-eastern side of Norries Head, after being dunked by heavy seas while swimming with friends at Cabarita Beach.

A post mortem of Corey's body is expected to be carried out this week.

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