Dramatic scenes from the death of a 65-year-old Gold Coast man at Cabarita on the Tweed Coast yesterday.
Dramatic scenes from the death of a 65-year-old Gold Coast man at Cabarita on the Tweed Coast yesterday. Tweed Daily News/Crystal Spencer

Surf death at Cabarita

AN hour of frantic resuscitation attempts by surf lifesavers and paramedics proved unsuccessful and a 65-year-old man tragically died at Cabarita beach yesterday.

The Gold Coast man was bodysurfing with a male cousin about midday, not far from the Cabarita Beach Surf Life Saving Club, when both men began to struggle in the water.

One of the men managed to return to shore and ran to the surf club to get help.

Meanwhile, a fisherman who had seen the other man submerge waded out and dragged him back to shore, before commencing CPR.

Soon after, surf lifesavers from Salt and two ambulance crews arrived at the scene and took over the resuscitation attempts.

The unconscious man was placed in the back of an ambulance, which shook violently as the crews performed compressions on his chest.

A doctor and paramedic were winched down from the Westpac Lifesaver Rescue helicopter, which was unable to find a landing area, and they too attempted to revive the dying man.

The 65-year-old, from Upper Coomera, was pronounced dead just before 1pm.

Northern NSW lifeguard co-ordinator Scott McCartney said a combination of inexperienced swimming and the “tricky” surf conditions could have contributed to the tragedy.

There were one to two metre swells with a strong sweep when the men entered the water.

“We've had a lot of moving water due to the high tides,” Mr McCartney said.

“There's so much water rushing in and out, it causes problems.

“The only flags at the moment on the far north coast are at Salt.

“If you are going to swim around here, Salt is open (patrolled by surf lifesavers) 365 days a year.

“If you aren't an experienced swimmer, it's not worth testing your luck.”

Mr McCartney praised the efforts of the fisherman who rushed to the 65-year-old's aid.

It is understood the brave man was a tourist from Sydney who recently completed his Bronze Medallion refresher course.

“He's done a great job and many thanks to him,” Mr McCartney said.

“He was doing everything right.

“He was the first on the scene and the best response is a quick response.”

Mr McCartney said the man, along with a SLSC club member, managed to “get a few breaths out” of the unconscious man when they performed CPR on him on the beach.

“There was mention he was in a lot of distress when he got to shore.

“We had a few volunteer lifesavers (performing CPR), we had lifeguards, we had ambulance paramedics - everyone was doing a great job.”

The man's family members, including his wife, waited inside the surf club as attempts to revive him continued in the ambulance.

Inspector Darren Steel of Tweed/Byron Police said a post-mortem examination would be conducted.



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