Brett Ward died a hero
BRETT Ward had spoken to his wife on the phone just minutes before he drowned while saving his 11-year-old sister and her friend at New Brighton on the weekend.
Brett, who grew up in Mullumbimby and was well known and loved across the Northern Rivers, died a hero on Sunday off New Brighton beach.
The 34-year-old had just hung up the phone and was walking with his sister, Hayley, her 12-year-old friend, and his dog, when the young girls were swept out from the shore, his family said.
The Main Arm man leapt in to save them, but could not make it back to safety.
“He was walking a dog along, and the young girls were in water up to their knees and all of a sudden it went out from under them and they got swept out,” Brett's step-mother Kathy Ward said.
“He'd just finished speaking to his wife on the phone. It wouldn't have been five minutes,” his father John Ward said.
The family was yesterday making arrangements for a funeral to be held some time in the next week.
His dad, who has a long association with trucks and machinery, will remember the hours he spent with his son as a child working with bull- dozers.
“He just spent hours on end sitting on the bulldozer beside me while I was working,” Mr Ward said.
“He loved machinery and trucks and he was always involved in trucks here.”
Brett was a truck driver who was dedicated to his wife, Sharee, of eight years.
“They were just a devoted couple,” Mrs Ward said.
“They never went anywhere without each other.”
Mr Ward said Sharee was “struggling pretty hard” with the loss, and his young sister, who had been visiting from Queensland, was not coping well either.
Brett has been described as “a kind, loving, friendly person. I can't recall him ever having a bad friend,” his father said.
“He didn't dislike anyone.”