The Pass, Byron Bay.
The Pass, Byron Bay. Patrick Gorbunovs

Injured surfer officially pronounced dead

UPDATE 12.20pm: THE man injured when he was hit by his own surfboard at Byron Bay the weekend has been pronounced dead, Inspector Darren Steele of the Tweed-Byron police Local Area Command has said. 

The man had been on life support since arriving at a Gold Coast hospital on Sunday, awaiting the arrival of a surgical team for organ donation.

Police had mistakenly said on Sunday the man had died, but Insp Steele has now said the man was officially pronounced dead early this morning.

SAD SURFERS: Pictured at The Pass yesterday were longboarders, Lauren Brophy, 27, left, of Yamba and Maria Nilsson, 28, of Byron Bay.
SAD SURFERS: Pictured at The Pass yesterday were longboarders, Lauren Brophy, 27, left, of Yamba and Maria Nilsson, 28, of Byron Bay. Megan Kinninment

7.23am: "IT WAS only a matter of time," said locals reacting to news of Sunday's surfing tragedy at The Pass, which has left a Gold Coast man on life-support.

While police say over-crowding of the popular surf spot is not being investigated as the cause of the 36-year-old father's injuries, local surfers describe the spot as dangerous.

"Locals have been saying for years it is just a matter of time before someone is killed here," Byron Bay surfer Ben Bennink said.

"It was completely crazy on Sunday. There were at least 150 people out there, where there should have been 30-40," he said. "It was utterly dangerous.

"There are a lot of beginner surfers who think The Pass is a good place to learn - but it's actually not.

"It's like learning to drive in peak-hour traffic.

"You can walk straight into the waves, but then it can get very fast, very quickly."

The resulting crowds mean the surf becomes dangerous for all - including experienced surfers.

"The beginners have zero understanding of what they are doing," Mr Bennink said. They commonly paddled in front of other surfers.

"It becomes chaotic quickly."

Mr Bennink called for restrictions on beginners and hire-board riders at The Pass, in line with geographical restrictions placed on local surf school operators.

He would also like to see live web-streaming cameras removed.

"That would lessen crowding dramatically," he said.

Longboarders Maria Nilsson, 28, of Byron Bay, and Lauren Brophy, 27, of Yamba, agreed there was a problem.

"It has beautiful waves, but it gets crazy here. You have to dodge others," Ms Nilsson said.

"A beginner rider dropped in on me just today. I've had a few clangs out there because of overcrowding."

"Everyone feels so sad (about the accident). As surfers you know something may happen. We've all copped an injury at some stage," Ms Brophy said. "But this accident was unexpected because the surf was so small yesterday.

"I would 100% support a ban on hire boards and beginners from this part of the beach. You should learn to surf in the white water, it's safer for everyone."



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