An angel ring has now been placed on Moonee Beach, the site of four drownings within five days.
An angel ring has now been placed on Moonee Beach, the site of four drownings within five days. Rachel Vercoe

A harrowing history of beach drownings

AN ANGEL ring has now been placed at the notorious site on Moonee Beach that recently saw the drowning deaths of four tourists within just five days.

The ring, appearing as a sobering reminder of the tragedies that unfolded last week, has been loaned from the Red Rock Surf Life Saving Club in a bid to provide some form of life-saving measure at the unpatrolled beach.

Angel rings are life buoys which have been installed by the Australian National Sportfishing Association at some NSW beaches.

Red Rock was the first location on the North Coast to receive angel rings, with three installed in 2006 after the drowning of an American exchange student.

They have been used to help save many lives since.

Beachgoers are reminded that if you cannot identify a rip, always swim between the flags at patrolled beaches. Never go swimming without a floatation device in case you may need to do a rescue. If you do not have one, wait for emergency services.

A confronting reality, the recent Moonee Beach drownings are not the first tragedies to strike our part of the coast. Here are just some from the past years.

 

2018

December 21: Moonee Beach became the site of four deaths within one week after a 60-year-old Swiss national drowned. Emergency services arrived at the scene after reports the man was missing in the water. They pulled him from the surf, but he died at the scene.

December 17: Ghouseuddin Mohammed, 45, Syed Rahath, 35 and Junaid Mohd Abdul, 27, were swept out to sea while swimming near the mouth of the creek at Moonee Beach. It is understood they were attempting to rescue three teenage relatives, who all survived. Junaid went missing, his body later found by a fishing boat near Port Macquarie three days later.

November 9: Local man Lionel Innes,80, drowned at Sapphire Beach after his boat capsized. He had been out collecting lobster pots to give to his son for his 50th birthday.

February 17: Queensland man Daniel Price, 22, was swept out to sea while swimming with friends at Valla Beach. It is believed he and his friends got caught in a rip. The group made it to shore but Daniel could not be found.

 

2017

December 17: Fiona Bohanna, 49, was rescuing her nephews when they got caught in a rip at Diggers Beach. She collapsed when she reached the sand. Paramedics used defibrillator before she was taken to hospital, but she could not be revived. Fiona, originally from Queensland, had been holidaying with her family in Coffs.

April 15: Ali Mosawi, 17, was swimming with four others at Pebbly Beach when they were reportedly caught in a rip. The Western Sydney teenager's body has not been found.

March 2: A 54-year-old man died while swimming at Repton's Tuckers Rock Beach with two boys, 11 and 14. The boys survived, but the man was unresponsive when pulled to shore and died at scene.

 

2016

December 26: Grafton man Geoffrey Blackadder, 60, was attempting to save four relatives who found themselves in trouble at Wooli Beach. The children were pulled to safety, but Geoffrey died at the scene.

March 22: Two men, 28 and 30, believed to be Asian nationals, were dragged out in a rip at Park Beach. The 30-year-old died at scene, and the 28-year-old later died at hospital.

 

2015:

April 6: A Sydney man in his 50s died while swimming with family at Sapphire Beach. He was pulled from the water unconscious and could not be revived.

 

2013:

January 9: The body of a 57-year-old man was found floating face down in the water off Woolgoolga Headland. In a horrible coincidence, the daughter of the man witnessed the shooting death of her partner at Mullaway the next day. The tragedies are not connected.

 

2012:

December 19: Local boy, seven-year-old Blaine Wadwell, died at Emerald Beach. An off duty ambulance officer attempted to revive him, but he was pronounced dead upon arrival at hospital.

October 20: Yong Jon Lee, a 23-year-old Korean national, got caught in a rip at Woolgoolga Main Beach. Visiting on temporary visa to pick blueberries, he arrived just a week earlier. His body was found washed ashore at Safety Beach after a three day search.

April 23: A French national, 27, drowned in heavy surf at Diggers Beach. He got caught in a rip when swimming with friends, and died at the scene.

April 8: 24-year-old kayaker Nathan Copeland drowned after he fell from his ski in heavy surf at Valla Beach. Attempting to save him, his friend found himself in difficulty in the water. The friend was rescued but Nathan couldn't be found. His body was discovered two days later between north and south Valla Beaches.

 

2011

January 4: A 21-year-old Chinese student drowned at Sandy Beach. She was found floating unconscious in the surf and could not be revived. She and a 14-year-old girl got into trouble in a rip while riding boogie boards. The young girl was saved.



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