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Water safety warning after drownings across NSW

Sunday, 02 January 2022 03:33:16 PM

The death of a rock fisherman in the Illawarra region today is the latest in a series of recent drownings across the state, as the NSW Police Force and Surf Life Saving NSW encourages the community to be extra careful around waterways.

About 12.50pm (Sunday 2 January 2022), police and emergency services were called to Windang Island following reports of a man in distress in the water.

Officers from Marine Area Command and Lake Illawarra Police District responded and were told the man, who was not wearing a lifejacket, had been fishing on the rocks before being swept into the water.

Police and NSW Surf Lifesavers conducted an extensive search on the water, while the Toll Ambulance helicopter conducted aerial searches.

The body of a 21-year-old man was located about 1.20pm, before being winched from the water by the Toll Ambulance helicopter and returned to shore by Water Police.

A report will be prepared for the information of the Coroner.

Three other people have tragically drowned in waterways across the state in recent days, including another rock fisherman at Turimetta Beach in Warriewood, a 15-year-old boy at Shoalhaven River in Burrier, and an 18-year-old man in the Murray River at Albury.

Marine Area Commander Superintendent Murray Reynolds said police will continue to do everything in their power to keep people safe on the water.

“The most difficult part of our work is when someone dies or is seriously injured and we know it could have been prevented,” said Superintendent Reynolds.

“These deaths are incredibly tragic. Our heart goes out to the loved ones of the people who recently lost their lives in the water,” said Mr Reynolds.

“We’re asking the community to help us keep you safe, always assess the environment and take simple precautions to prevent tragedy,” he said.

In recent days, a number of people have also been rescued from waterways across the state, including two fishermen whose boat capsized at Maroubra about 8.30am today (Sunday 2 January 2022), and a group of people after their jet skis rolled in rough seas off Point Danger just after 12.30pm today (Sunday 2 January 2022).

Police urge all those heading to waterways to remember these simple tips:

*If you cannot swim, do not go into the water

*Only swim in waterways that are patrolled – swim between the red and yellow flags and always listen to advice from lifeguards

*Wear a life jacket, whether you are on a boat or out fishing

*Be aware of all conditions – water conditions and the weather are unpredictable. Be mindful of rips and changes and do not swim at night.

Surf Life Saving NSW CEO, Steve Pearce said the recent incidents are a timely reminder of how dangerous the water can be.

“The start to the new year has presented an extremely challenging period for our volunteer lifesavers and lifeguards up and down the NSW coastline,” Mr Pearce said.

“Hot temperatures, challenging surf conditions and massive crowds all contributed to the busiest operational period in five years. The multiple rescues, resuscitations and fatalities we have seen this weekend are a tragic reminder that beach safety is of the utmost importance when you take a trip to the coastline.

“We are so fortunate to have fantastically skilled and resourced lifesavers and lifeguard services up and down our coastline. These men and women have definitely saved dozens of lives these last two days.

“The public just need to remember to swim at patrolled locations and to head for the red and yellow flags where we’ve got the appropriate amount of supervision to be able to watch them,” Mr Pearce said.

Details on recent incidents on the water:

Just after 8.30am today (Sunday 02 January 2022), emergency services were called to the South Maroubra headlands following reports a vessel with two men onboard had capsized. Police were told the men, aged in their 50s, had been fishing when their boat began to take on water before capsizing. The men, who were not wearing life jackets, managed to swim to nearby rocks. Officers attached to Eastern Beaches Police Area Command attended and helped bring the men to shore, with the assistance from Police Rescue and Surf Life Saving volunteers. NSW Ambulance paramedics treated the men on scene for minor abrasions.

Police and emergency services also responded to reports two jet skis had rolled over in rough seas off Point Danger and a number of people were in the water, just after 12.30pm today (Sunday 2 January 2022). Officers from Tweed/Byron Police District and Marine Area Command arrived on scene a short time later and commenced the rescue in dangerous conditions. Four people, who were all wearing life jackets, were rescued and returned to the shore. One of the riders – a 16-year-old girl – was taken to hospital by NSW Ambulance paramedics for observation. Their jet skis were severely damaged and deemed unrideable.

About 4pm yesterday (Saturday 1 January 2021), emergency services were called to Turimetta Beach at Warriewood, after reports a rock fisherman was pulled from the water unconscious by surfers. Officers from Northern Beaches Police Area Command attended along with NSW Ambulance paramedics, however the 53-year-old man died at the scene.

Another man was also pulled from the water about 2.10pm yesterday (Saturday 1 January 2022) after getting into trouble at North Palm Beach. The man, aged in his 50s, was treated at the scene before being taken to Northern Beaches Hospital, where he remains in a critical condition.

Just before 1.30pm yesterday (Saturday 1 January December 2021), the body of a 15-year-old boy was recovered from Shoalhaven River at Burrier after disappearing while swimming on Friday (31 December 2021). A search was conducted involving officers from South Coast Police District, police divers, NSW Ambulance, the TOLL rescue helicopter and the State Emergency Service (SES).

About 2.15pm on Saturday 25 December 2021, several teenage boys were swimming in the Murray River at Noreuil Park when they got into difficulties. The group was assisted from the water; however, an 18-year-old man was unaccounted for. A multi-agency search was conducted involving officers from Murray River Police District, NSW Ambulance, members of the Volunteer Rescue Association (VRA) and State Emergency Service (SES), and drone operators. About 8am on Friday (31 December 2021), the body of the 18-year-old was located in shallow water a short distance from the Kremur Street boat ramp.

About 1.30pm on Saturday 25 December 2021, a 42-year-old man got into trouble after he attempted to swim to shore from a boat at a dam in Bathurst. A search for the man in surrounding waters has continued, however, he has not been located.