Nomination for off-duty actions that saved two lives
THE selfless actions of off-duty lifeguard Fletcher Ericson on a sunny day at Elliott Heads have been recognised with a nomination for a Queensland Police Bravery Medal.
The Bundaberg man was at home, studying for his Certificate II and III in Fitness and Personal Training in October 2016, when he got the call that two people were in trouble in the water.
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.
Mr Ericson raced to the scene to find Mick Gray - a Bundaberg police constable - 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 was 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 the scene, while the man was taken to hospital for chest x-rays as a precaution.
At the time, Mr Ericson 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.”
Last year, Surf Life Saving Queensland recognised Mr Ericson's efforts with a Lifesaving Excellence Award and this latest accolade is simply another reminder of his bravery that day.