Lifeguard Jamie Findlay keeps watch over the flagged swimming area at Elliott Heads.
Lifeguard Jamie Findlay keeps watch over the flagged swimming area at Elliott Heads. RON BURGIN

Dramatic sea rescue

TWO teenagers nearly drowned after they were sucked out to the ocean during a mid-morning swim in the mouth of the Elliott River.

The pair were swimming with two other teenagers at an unpatrolled section of beach about 10.30am when they decided to cross the mouth of the river to an island between Elliott Heads and Coonarr beaches.

It was an almost deadly decision because the tide had turned, creating a strong rip that sucked huge amounts of water from the river into the ocean.

An 18-year-old man and a girl made it back to shore, but the other two 14-year-old girls were unable to swim against the strong tidal force.

Lifeguard Jamie Findlay was alerted to the pair’s plight by a witness watching them flounder.

As the only lifeguard on patrol, Mr Findlay closed the beach before swimming out to the two girls, who were about 70m offshore and in line with the Elliott Heads Kiosk.

“I swam out with two tubes and brought them back to the beach,” he said.

Mr Findlay said one of the girls was nauseous and dizzy, so he gave her oxygen, while the boy who made it to shore on his own had gone home but could not stop vomiting.

He returned to the lifeguard base and was given oxygen, before all four teenagers were taken by ambulance to Bundaberg Hospital.

The four were treated and discharged yesterday.

It was Mr Findlay’s second rescue in his seven years as a volunteer lifesaver, and his first as a paid lifeguard.

He had a simple message for swimmers.

“Don’t swim in the river mouth,” he said.

The incident has prompted Surf Life Saving Queensland to warn swimmers about the dangers of swimming in unpatrolled areas.

Wide Bay Capricorn regional manager Craig Holden said swimming in creeks and river mouths was a dangerous decision.

He said rips created by the outgoing tide were strong because of the recent king tides caused by the full moon.

“It also happened in Innes Park last month,” Mr Holden said.

As the NewsMail reported in October, a woman nearly drowned as she tried to save two children sucked out to sea with the outgoing tide at the Innes Park inlet.

“We only want people to swim at patrolled beaches during patrol hours, and we want them to avoid river mouths, especially during the outgoing tide,” he said.



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