Fingal claims another hero’s life in deadly rip
A MAN who gave his life to help pull a young girl out of the water at Fingal Beach on Friday has been praised as a hero by local surf lifesavers.
Despite being a strong swimmer with a history in surf lifesaving, Ryan Martin lost his life in the treacherous waters around Fingal Headland on Friday.
Mr Martin, a 30-year-old accountant from Burleigh Heads, and another man, Pottsville tradesman Luke Robinson, swam to the rescue of a woman and her daughter, aged 7, after the pair became caught in a rip on Dreamtime Beach, south of the headland, about 3.40pm.
Despite his experience in the water, Mr Martin eventually succumbed to the unpredictable currents after lifting the girl to safety.
An enormous lifesaving effort was undertaken by members of the Fingal Rovers Surf Life Saving Club – who were patrolling the flagged area just 800m to the north – as well as by beachgoers, paramedics, rescue personnel and police.
Fingal Rovers SLSC president Steven Kudzius, who was driving the rescue boat at the time, said although it was out of sight of surf lifesavers, it was heartbreaking that the tragedy unfolded so close to a patrolled beach.
“The public needs to understand we have flags for a reason,” Mr Kudzius said.
He said the waves may have looked inviting to the south of the headland, but to the untrained eye they could easily hide dangerous rips.
“Ryan was a very honourable and brave person for putting his life on the line,” Mr Kudzius said.
“He was quite a good waterman, but the currents are that treacherous around the front of the headland, it’s such a dangerous spot.”
It is believed Mr Martin was the first person on the scene to help the woman and girl.
Mr Kudzius said the rescue environment was chaotic, as many members of the public tried to assist and volunteers worked to assess the situation.
“You’ve got a rock wall on one side... it’s always a very hard place to drive a boat safely and retrieve people,” he said.
He said the support of other rescue groups was crucial to the exhausted Fingal volunteers.
It was the second tragedy for the club this season, after New Zealand woman Aggie Auelua, 26, drowned while trying to save a boy, 9, at the headland last October.