2 January 2023

Off-duty officer drowns saving two boys at Narooma

Join the conversation

Volunteer surf lifesavers logged almost 200 rescues on New Year’s Day. Unfortunately a man in his 40s on the South Coast could not be saved. Photo: File.

An off-duty police officer in his 40s has drowned after saving two young boys caught in a rip on the South Coast.

The man reportedly entered the water at Handkerchief Beach, near Narooma, to help the boys, aged 12 and 15, who were caught in a rip at the unpatrolled beach.

Chief Executive Officer of Surf Life Saving NSW Steven Pearce said the man’s actions saved the youngsters.

“Heroically, he was able to assist the two boys out of danger, out of the rip, but he himself remained in the rip and submerged in front of witnesses,” Mr Pearce said.

The Surf Life Saving NSW State Operations Centre was notified at about 1:30 pm on 1 January. The man was recovered by Narooma lifesavers in an Inflatable Rescue Boat (IRB) after they travelled to the location by water.

The lifesavers began CPR but the man was later declared dead at the scene by NSW Ambulance.

READ ALSO Lifeguards will patrol eight Eurobodalla beaches every day these summer holidays

After dealing with numerous requests for assistance through the SLSNSW State Operations Centre over the Christmas period, the New Year delivered a similar story with another huge day for volunteer lifesavers and lifeguards on our beaches.

Near drownings at Shelly Beach and Wamberal on the Central Coast, Shellharbour on the South Coast, and Byron Bay on the Far North Coast were among a host of major incidents, while lifesavers made multiple major rescues across the state.

At 6:20 pm, logged rescues tallied 199 for the day and more than 6000 preventative actions had been taken.

At Shellharbour, just before 2:30 pm, an 18-year-old man was pulled from the ocean having taken on a significant amount of water and was falling in and out of consciousness. He was treated by paramedics at the scene.

“It has truly been another huge day for our volunteers,” SLSNSW President George Shales said.

READ ALSO Record drownings prompt plea from lifesavers as temperatures rise

“The New Year period always proves to be a busy one on our beaches and that has rung true once again. We will end up with well over 200 rescues logged for the day and that is testament to the fantastic work our volunteers do to keep beachgoers safe.”

Last year across the state, the period between December 2021 and February 2022 claimed the record for the most coastal and ocean drowning deaths over a summer, with 25 fatalities recorded in NSW, despite the higher than usual rainfall from La Niña and reduced beach attendances.

In NSW, drowning deaths are 2.7 times more likely to occur on a public holiday and 1.6 times more likely during school holidays. The end of year break, often coupled with celebrating with family and friends, can create a perfect storm.

“The statistics really show a need to push the critical surf safety messaging that SLSNSW works year-round to spread through our communities,” Mr Shales said.

Join the conversation

All Comments
  • All Comments
  • Website Comments

Daily Digest

Do you like to know what’s happening around your region? Every day the About Regional team packages up our most popular stories and sends them straight to your inbox for free. Sign-up now for trusted local news that will never be behind a paywall.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.