Rescuers save four people from drowning at Kellys
IF IT wasn't for the fast action of witnesses and off-duty lifesavers four people could have died in the surf off Bargara this afternoon.
The four people, a woman and three men, were swimming just south of the Basin at Kellys Beach in unusually choppy conditions just before 6pm when they were caught in a rip.
As they were dragged out to sea shocked onlookers walking along the beach noticed they were in trouble and called authorities.
Surf Life Saving Queensland's regional manager for operations Craig Holden was on the beach after the rescue and praised all involved in the mass rescue.
He said the rescue call came after life guards had finished their patrol of the flagged area a bit further south on Kellys Beach.
"We received our call at 6.20 from police and I activated the off duty guys to come down," Mr Holden said .
"By the time we got here there were a couple of members of the public helping out and the five or six of us managed to get all four swimmers out safely."
Mr Holden said luckily the Bundaberg Surf Life Saving Club had three people near the beach.
One of those was president John McGregor who lived nearby and another member of the public was a former English lifeguard.
"Between everyone that was here they handled the situation very well," Mr Holden said.
"Which was extremely lucky for all those involved.
"Without a word of doubt, if we didn't get some help to them it would have been a totally different story.
"Just looking at their swimming ability and what was going on it would have ended in tragedy."
"They were very, very lucky."
Mr Holden said the conditions weren't super rough but the ocean was choppy and messy because of a south easterly wind.
He said the main issue was that section of beach was notorious for a rip.
"By the time they get caught in the rip and taken further out to sea they can't touch the bottom," Mr Holden said
"They have to stay afloat until help arrives."
Life guard Jamie Findlay said when he landed on the beach everyone had things pretty well under control.
"The members of the public and the off-duty lifeguards had already treated the patients but we were a bit unsure we had them all," Mr Findlay said
"We had a bit of search and rescue because we weren't sure how many people were in trouble."
Witness John Dimitropoulos was blown away by the rescue effort saying the people involved needed some sort of recognition.
These lifesavers are absolutely amazing," Mr Dimitropoulos said.
"Without these guys on our beaches we would not be safe.
"These guys were off duty.
"If they weren't here it would have been disastrous.
"We love them here at Bargara Beach... they are incredible."
FOUR people have been rescued after getting into trouble while swimming at Bargara tonight.
Emergency services were called to Kellys Beach just before 6.30pm as the sun was going down.
It is thought an off-duty lifeguard saw the group struggling and used a rescue tube to bring one of them to shore.
Paramedics have now left the beach but police remain.
Deb Sherman saw the event unfold.
"Having just witnessed a rescue off the beach near Don Pancho, my hat goes off to the off-duty lifesaver and other locals who were able to help the five people who had been washed out in very strong seas.
"It was early evening and patrols at Kellys had finished, but thankfully people walking the beach were able to raise the alarm.
"Thankfully all were okay, apart from shock, but it put their lives at risk and those of the heroes who battled strong surf to help."
PHOTOS AND INTERVIEWS COMING