Surf Life Savers search for a drowning victim from the rocks at the Fingal Head Lighthouse, Fingal Head.
Surf Life Savers search for a drowning victim from the rocks at the Fingal Head Lighthouse, Fingal Head. Scott Davis

Four lives lost before government acts

TWO new angel rings and improved safety signage will be installed at Fingal Head within weeks after the tragic death of yet another swimmer at the treacherous headland this week.

Japanese backpacker Tomoe Ogisu, 22, became the fourth person since October 2015 to lose his life at the dangerous headland, sparking a renewed outcry from emergency services and local residents for something to be done.

Local surfer Dylan Carpenter, 20, Gold Coast man Ryan Martin, 30, and New Zealand tourist Aggie Auelua, 26, all drowned after getting into trouble near the headland.

A fifth person, popular Indian university student Ravneet Singh Gill, died at nearby Duranbah beach on Christmas Day last year.

Tweed MP Geoff Provest - who in October blamed bureaucratic bumbling over insurance responsibilities for the delay in getting two old-fashioned lifebuoys known as 'angel rings' installed at the headland - said his thoughts were with Mr Ogisu's family.

"My condolences go out to the family. It is a terrible thing to lose a young person,” he said.

Mr Provest said the issue of the angel rings had finally been resolved.

"I have just been advised that Crown Lands has waived any insurance issues,” he said late Thursday.

"I am disappointed. I've been working on this for two years and it's been difficult in terms of approvals and who is responsible for what, but at the end of the day people are dying.

"Finally we are reacting. We are trying to speed it up.”

Surf Life Saving NSW chief executive officer Steven Pearce will meet Mr Provest at Fingal Headland next Friday to determine where to install the two angel rings.

Representatives from the NSW Advisory Council on Recreational Fishing, the body responsible for installing angel rings, the local indigenous community and Tweed Shire Council will also be present.

GRIM SEARCH: Emergency services swept the area from the headland to northern Fingal Head Beach on Thursday morning.
GRIM SEARCH: Emergency services swept the area from the headland to northern Fingal Head Beach on Thursday morning. Liana Turner

Mr Provest expects the rings to be installed within weeks, with additional safety signage also planned.

An emergency response beacon similar to those installed at perilous rock fishing areas in Sydney is also under discussion, with Mr Provest lobbying for funding to cover its $35,000 cost.

But he said it was important to emphasise the devices were not miracle cures.

"The angel rings aren't going to save everyone. They are thrown in from the shore, so if you go beyond that distance there will be an issue,” he said.

"I encourage everyone to be aware of the beach conditions.”

Emergency services recovered Mr Ogisu's body from the water on Thursday about 1.2km north of the headland.

Rescue crews were called to the treacherous headland about 3.10pm on Wednesday after the keen surfer was caught in a rip.

The search, involving police and lifesavers using jet skis and boats, was called off on Wednesday night as conditions deteriorated, resuming on Thursday.

A sign at Fingal Head warning swimmers to avoid the unpatrolled Dreamtime Beach.
A sign at Fingal Head warning swimmers to avoid the unpatrolled Dreamtime Beach. Liana Turner

Surf Life Saving duty officer Chris Samuels said any sort of flotation device would be beneficial but urged people to be aware of the dangers of rips and "know their limitations”.

"There are signs around the area warning people.”

Tweed Byron Police District Superintendent Wayne Starling said it was "a tragedy” to see another death at the headland.

He said Mr Ogisu's family would travel from Japan in the coming days to retrieve his body.

Emergency services this morning recovered the body of a man in his 20s from Fingal Head Beach after we was swept out on the southern side of the headland yesterday.
Emergency services this morning recovered the body of a man in his 20s from Fingal Head Beach after we was swept out on the southern side of the headland yesterday. Liana Turner


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