Spooky Beach, the scene of a dramatic surf rescue last week.
Spooky Beach, the scene of a dramatic surf rescue last week.

Dramatic rescue at Spooky

WHEN a Yamba man lost consciousness in the water at Spooky Beach last week, surfboard riders and others pulled together to help save his life.

Last Tuesday Yamba grandfather Xavier took his son and two grandchildren to what he thought was a safe beach at Angourie for a swim.

Xavier’s partner, Jo Silvester, said the grandchildren, aged eight and six, had been wading in the water up to their knees when suddenly they were being sucked out to sea in a rip in the middle of the beach.

“It all happened so quickly,” Jo said.

But when Xavier and his son swam out to rescue the boys, they too quickly found themselves in trouble.

“Xavier had the six-year-old but he got exhausted and there was no way he could hold them both above water,” Jo said.

She said eventually Xavier was going under, but still holding his grandson above the water.

When a group of local surfers saw there was trouble, they quickly paddled over to help the family.

Wooloweyah surfer and World Qualifying Series champion Dan Ross, his girlfriend Virginia Martin and Angourie surfers David Treloar, Dave Irving and a friend started paddling family members ashore. But by the time they had returned for Xavier his condition had deteriorated. He had lost consciousness and was hardly breathing.

“I didn’t realise how bad Xavier was or I would have taken him in first,” Dan said.

Virginia and David got him up onto two boards and with the help of the others slowly paddled him ashore.

On the beach David said they could see Xavier was faintly breathing so they cleared his airways and put him in the recovery position. Over the next 10 minutes, Dan said life slowly came back into Xavier’s face.

“It was the closest I’ve ever seen anyone to passing away and then coming back to life,” he said.

Other local residents were on hand to help too – one called the ambulance, someone else put up a beach umbrella to shade Xavier and another was calling out encouragement to Xavier to ‘hang in there’. David said everyone just fell into line and helped however they could.

Jo said if it wasn’t for the efforts, the situation could have been tragic.

“I don’t want to go that close to losing anyone ever again,” Jo said. “We just want to thank everyone who helped.”

The ambulance used the newly repaired Spooky Beach access to get onto the beach to collect Xavier and take him to the Maclean District Hospital for observation. Jo said that this week Xavier was recovering well.

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