Our local heroes and the lives they've saved
SEVEN lives were saved by strangers at beaches around Bundaberg between August last year and March this year.
Without the quick thinking action of six Bundaberg community members the outcome may have been very different.
Surf Life Saving Queensland have recognised the bravery and lifesaving actions of the selfless locals by giving them Lifesaving Award of Excellence.
On October 17 two stand up paddle-boarders, one being Darren Keena, noticed international backpackers on tire tubes up the Elliot Heads river mouth.
They were about 200m up stream when the current from the out going tide dragged them both out of the river mouth into the ocean about 300m off shore before a NNE wind at about 15-20 knots started blowing them to the south still about 300m offshore.
Two local stand up paddle-boarders noticed the difficulty they were in and paddled out to the patients returning them to shore safely. The rescuers reassured the patients, calming them down and ensured that they were returned safely.
Mr Keena said it was only by chance that he went for a paddle that day and the rescue happened in a blink of an eye.
He was given a special award for his bravery.
The very next day, October 18, Sherylea and Mick Gray noticed a couple in trouble also at Elliot Heads.
Mrs Gray saw two people messing about in the neck of the river and I said to hubby 'I think they're In trouble.
She ran around trying to get help before a council worker suggested she use the emergency phone to call for help.
Meanwhile Mick Gray and another gentleman Christian Damic from NSW, where swimming out to 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 the scene, while the man was taken to hospital for chest x-rays as a precaution.
"The Korean guy was going under. His head was nodding. It was touch and go. They where just lucky there were people here at the time.”
The pair graciously accepted the award saying helping the pair was enough of a reward.
One month earlier on August 17 at Nielson Park, Bargara, just in front of the Bundaberg Surf Club (which was not operational) Bill Partridge, 72, noticed two men caught in a strong rip being swept out to sea.
He couldn't find anything to use as a floatation aid so he swam out to them and managed to drag them both back to the beach where onlookers helped them out of the water.
His quick action was able to save the lives of Noel Gray, 68, and Barry Smith from Victoria.
Mr Gray confirmed the action of Mr Partridge and was adamant both he and Mr Smith were close to drowning before being rescued by him.
Mr Partridge had been visiting Bargara annually for 15 years and usually stays for about 12 weeks to avoid the southern winter.
Mr Gray has a similar routine as does Mr Smith. They all stay at the Bargara Beach Caravan Park.
As the surf life saving season drew to end on March 31 the quick actions of Ryan Weekes and Boaz Bragg were able to help save Hayden Peebless at Kelly's Beach.
Mr Peebless was riding a surging current coming out of the entrance of Moneys Creek after Cyclone Debbie had pass through Bundaberg.
The young fellow jumped in after his boggy board and was knocked down by a wave losing his footing and was taken out to sea. After loosing his boggy board he was getting thrown around waving his hands and calling for help
By the time the boys got to Mr Peebless they had been swept out near the shark cans, keeping Hayden afloat they then proceeded to bring him back to shore where a waiting ambulance had arrived.
SLSQ's regional operations manager Craig Holden has praised the efforts of all involved.
"At SLSQ we have a vision of sezo preventable deaths in Queensland's public waters and these outstanding individuals have helped us strive towards that vision,” he said.