Bravery commendation for man behind Yamba mass surf rescue
LATE one March afternoon last year, the last thing Bryce Ellis expected to be doing as he was fishing on Yamba's Main Beach was take part in one of the largest rescues of the Clarence Valley's 2018 summer.
Yesterday Mr Ellis was officially recognised for coming to the aid of five swimmers struggling in a rip with a commendation for brave conduct.
The former local, who has since moved to Melbourne, was fishing near the infamous Lone Rock Rip at Yamba's northern Main Beach around 4pm on March 4 when he heard screaming coming from a group of swimmers in waist deep water.
The group of four females and one male had been caught in a rip and were panicking in the water.
Springing into action, Mr Ellis ran back along the beach, entered the water, and swam through the strong rip to reach the swimmers.
He quickly assessed the situation and grabbed hold of two of the distressed females, pulling them to the safety of the rocks.
This process was made difficult as the panicked male had tried to hold onto Mr Ellis, dragging him underwater.
He then returned to the male and guided him towards the rocks before assisting the remaining two females, who had floating devices, to a safe area. He remained with the two females until they had recovered sufficiently to make their way to the beach.
For his actions, Mr Ellis was commended for brave conduct.
Yamba Shores Tavern bartender Lachlan Major was at a staff party at the Yamba Surf Life Saving Club, dressed as Baywatch star David Hasselhoff.
Speaking to The Daily Examiner following the rescue last year, Mr Major said Mr Ellis did all the "heavy lifting".
Mr Major said Mr Ellis, who was credited as an unknown fisherman in initial reports, did a lot of the work but he was able to help, as he grew up in the area and knew the beach.
"I did a bit of lifesaving when I was little, not much in the last 10 years - have pulled a few people out of the water before," he said.
The rescue did not go unnoticed however, with Federal Member for Page Kevin Hogan making a speech to parliament about the rescue on March 31.
"(Mr Ellis) did an incredible job and should be commended for how quickly he acted," Mr Hogan said.
"I thank Bryce and Lachlan and all the others who assisted in that rescue."
The Governor-General, Sir Peter Cosgrove yesterday awarded Australian Bravery Decorations to 101 outstanding Australians who, without thought of personal risk, displayed courage and bravery to protect or defend others.
"On behalf of all Australians, I thank these Australians for their bravery. They are a source of courage, support and inspiration, and we are a stronger, safer and more caring nation because of them," the Governor-General said.