LIFEGUARD: Fletcher Ericson came to the rescue of two tourists at Elliott Heads in 2016.
LIFEGUARD: Fletcher Ericson came to the rescue of two tourists at Elliott Heads in 2016. Craig Warhurst

Bundy hero recognised: Beach bravery rewarded

SWIMMING out into a rip to save two struggling swimmers sounds like a scene from a movie, but it's exactly what two Bundaberg men did.

Their efforts saved at least one life, and both off-duty lifeguard Fletcher Ericson and Senior Constable Michael Gray have been commended for their efforts in today's Australian Bravery Awards.

Mr Ericson was at home studying for exams when he received a call that two people were in danger out in the water.

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

It was Sen-Const Gray's wife Sherylea Jones who first spotted the two swimmers, thought to be in their mid-20s, being taken out to sea in a rip about 1pm on October 18, 2016.

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

Sen-Const Gray, who was off-duty at the time, witnessed the two distressed swimmers about 100m from the shore at Elliott Heads Beach.

Realising they were in difficulty, and being dragged further out to sea with the quickly moving tide, he immediately entered the choppy water and swam towards them. Sen-Const Gray tried to communicate with the swimmers, who were in a panicked state, with one swimmer intermittently falling below the water.

At this point another man also entered the water and began to swim in the direction of the struggling pair.

Mr Ericson arrived at the scene and without concern for his own safety he also entered the treacherous water and swam out to the struggling pair.

On reaching them he saw that the male was barely conscious and in need of medical attention.

When the rescuers reached the swimmers they linked arms with them and began making their way to shore where emergency services were waiting.

The swimmers were taken to Bundaberg Hospital and both recovered from their ordeal, but Mr Ericson described the event as a near-death situation.

"The Korean guy was going under,” he said.

"His head was nodding. It was touch and go. It's just lucky there were people here at the time.

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

The two have both been commended for their actions of brave conduct.



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