UPDATE: Rescuer nominated for bravery award

QUICK THINKING: Sherylea Jones and Mick Gray, with Arabella, helped save the lives of two tourists at Elliott Heads.
QUICK THINKING: Sherylea Jones and Mick Gray, with Arabella, helped save the lives of two tourists at Elliott Heads. Craig Warhurst

UPDATE: AN OFF-DUTY police officer at the centre of a dramatic rescue on Tuesday will be nominated for a bravery award.

Bundaberg Constable Mick Gray was at Elliott Heads when he, along with another man and off-duty lifesaver Fletcher Ericson, came to the rescue of two tourists.

It was Mick's wife, Sherylea Jones, who first noticed the German and Korean nationals was in trouble.

Other rescuers who helped may also be recognised.

Ambulance officers treat two tourists saved from drowning at Elliott Heads today.
Ambulance officers treat two tourists saved from drowning at Elliott Heads today. Craig Warhurst


YESTERDAY: TWO tourists owe their lives to the actions of a couple enjoying an ice cream at Elliott Heads yesterday afternoon.

The man and woman, thought to be in their mid-20s, became caught in a rip in the mouth of the river at low tide and were swept about 500m out to sea where bystanders could hear them screaming for help.

It is the second incident at the beach in two days.

On Monday a 16-year-old and 36-year-old were rescued by a stand-up paddleboarder after becoming caught in a rip at the popular swimming spot. The pair was able to use the tractor tyres they had with them as floatation devices but the incidents have prompted a warning from lifeguards to take precautions in unpatrolled areas.

Off-duty lifeguard Fletcher Ericson was at home studying for his Certificate II and III in Fitness and Personal Training when he got the call that the Korean and German nationals were in trouble.

He raced to the scene to find Mick Gray and another man, thought be from the nearby caravan park, already swimming out to help.


It was Mick's wife, Sherylea Jones, who first noticed the couple was in trouble.

"I saw two people messing about in the neck of the river and I said to hubby 'I think they're in trouble'," Sherylea said.

She ran around trying to find help before a council worker suggested she use the emergency phone to call for help.

"By the time I had done that, I looked out and they were waving for help," she said.

"Their heads kept going under."


It is thought the female was an able swimmer and was trying to keep her friend afloat but became fatigued.

Thanks to the efforts of the three bystanders, the couple was brought safely back to shore where they were treated by paramedics. The woman was checked over at he scene, while the man was taken to hospital for chest x-rays as a precaution.

Fletcher said the pair owed their lives to the actions of Mick and Sherylea.

"The Korean guy was going under. His head was nodding. It was touch and go," he said.

"It's just lucky there were people here at the time.

"The adrenalin is going and that fear takes over ... it's pretty nerve-wracking. Particularly with those moments, you can't stuff around."

Fletcher said the incidents were a reminder to swimmers to be vigilant.

"I think people need to be more aware. It looks safe but they don't understand the danger of flat water."

Topics:  elliott heads rescue

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