Family members watched in horror as a NSW father dived into a dangerous surf and drowned while rescuing his 13-year-old son.
The teen was able to reach safety after his 53-year-old father raced to his rescue during a family holiday at unpatrolled Boomerang Beach on the state’s mid north coast.
Police described the conditions as hazardous on Tuesday afternoon with “choppy surf and a very large rip”.
The father began to struggle and was rescued from the water by members of the public and a former surf lifesaver, who attempted CPR without success.
“I know it’s a large family and a number of the family members were present at the scene which makes it even more tragic,” Acting Inspector Anthony Atkinson told reporters in Forster on Wednesday.
With NSW school holidays underway and a run of warm weather, police and lifesavers are urging people to take care while swimming.
“Swim in a patrolled beach swim with a friend. Majority of beaches have beach safety signs. Read the beach safety signs and swim between the flags,” Insp Atkinson said.
He described the father’s actions as “heroic”.
“Saving the life of his son, (it’s) a heroic act, and we’ll make recommendations for bravery awards to go through surf life saving,” Insp Atkinson said.
It’s the second drowning in 16 days at the beach following the disappearance of a 22-year-old man from Orange, whose body has not been recovered.
NSW Lifesaving manager Andy Kent said the 28 coastal deaths in the state this year represented a significant spike that is a worrying sign for lifesavers.
“It’s very sad to see another drowning occur on the NSW coastline, and again at an unpatrolled beach,” he said.
“Many beaches are patrolled throughout the school holidays by professional lifeguards and we implore families and holiday-makers to head to one of these locations.”