Fast-thinking locals save family at Minnie
By JULIA ILES
THE actions of fast-thinking locals saved a family from drowning in a severe rip at Minnie Water's northern beach on Sunday.
Four children under 12 and an older male, possibly their father, were pulled 200 metres out to sea by the rip just after 5pm.
Their distressed mother attempted to enter the water but was warned off by Minnie Water residents Rosita and Darrell Lawlor, who were walking down the beach.
"We don't usually walk up the north end of the beach, but I guess it was just meant to be and we saw children in distress, they were waving their hands," Mrs Lawlor said.
Coincidentally their neighbour, Debbie Robinson, who was jogging down the beach, spotted Mr Lawlor removing his shirt, shoes and socks.
"I was going for a jog from the south to the north of the beach and I heard an hysterical lady, then I saw my neighbour heading into the water," Ms Robinson said.
Mrs Lawlor stayed on the beach to console the children's mother while Ms Robinson and Mr Lawlor swam out to help the group.
The two boys were able to make their way to shore leaving the two girls and the older man still struggling in the water.
"At one stage the rip was so strong I thought we would have to lay back and let the rip push us out and swim around it," Ms Robinson, a confident swimmer, said.
"The dad was panicking and was going under and all he could do was swear."
Ms Robinson grabbed the smaller of the two girls while Darrell brought in the older girl.
"I noticed the little girl Debbie was holding was panicking and holding onto her so tightly she was almost choking her, the poor little girl had swallowed a lot of water," Mrs Lawlor said.
The older male managed to eventually swim out of the rip to safety.
The identity of the family is not known, but it is believed they were visitors to Minnie Water.
Both Mrs Lawlor and Ms Robinson believe the Clarence Valley Council urgently needs to put up signs to warn people about the currents and rips.
"It is a safety issue and is not the first time it has happened, it is frightening as this is an area which is renowned for its severe currents and rips," Mrs Lawlor said.