EMERGENCY crews and surf life savers carry the man involved in a near drowning at Mooloolaba into the awaiting ambulance. Photo: Roxanne McKarty-OKane / Sunshine Coast Daily
EMERGENCY crews and surf life savers carry the man involved in a near drowning at Mooloolaba into the awaiting ambulance. Photo: Roxanne McKarty-OKane / Sunshine Coast Daily Roxanne OKane

Swimmer lucky to be alive after onlookers leap to rescue

ALL of the stars aligned for one Easter Sunday swimmer who almost lost his life on an unpatrolled section of beach near Mooloolaba.

If not for the quick-thinking actions of a former surf lifesaver, who was on the beach with her friends, a passing off-duty Brisbane emergency paramedic and the regular patrols of the Westpac Surf Life Saver Rescue Helicopter, this story would have had a very different ending.
The man and two of his friends were caught in a rip off the rocks in front of the Mooloolaba Caravan Park on The Esplanade just before 4pm yesterday.

Saige Morris was lying on the rocks after a brief dip and saw the men struggling in the surf.

"One of them started waving his arms and the other one was going under," she said.

"They were just panicking, so I ran in to help."

Mooloolaba near drowning
Mooloolaba near drowning

The petite Brisbanite managed to hold the larger man's head out of the water and was alarmed to find he had already turned blue by the time she reached him.

In a stroke of luck, the Westpac Surf Life Saver Rescue Helicopter flew overhead at that moment, while conducting its regular patrols from Noosa to Caloundra.

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Ms Morris's friends on the beach were able to flag down the helicopter, which went into action immediately and winched a rescuer into the surf to carry the man to shore.

An off-duty Brisbane emergency paramedic was driving past the scene with her family at the time.

When she saw what was happening, she immediately ran to the scene and began to assist with CPR while awaiting the arrival of the ambulance crews.

Surf Life Saving Queensland Sunshine Coast duty officer Guy Tanner said IRB crews from Mooloolaba and Alexandra Headland surf clubs had arrived simultaneously to help bring the other two men to shore.

Ms Morris said that without so many experienced people in the vicinity at the time, the male swimmer in most difficulty "probably would've died".

Wrapped in a silver thermal blanket, Ms Morris said she was "still freaking out" about what had just unfolded.

It is unknown whether the three men involved were Sunshine Coast locals or tourists.

A Queensland Ambulance Service spokesman said they did not have any record of the men's ages by the time of going to print.

The man Ms Morris rescued was transported to Nambour General Hospital in a serious condition while his two friends were taken in for treatment of minor conditions.

Mr Tanner said surf lifesavers had enjoyed a relatively incident-free Easter Sunday until the early afternoon.

He said members also had been involved in a rescue on the Noosa Bar where a boat had gone over with three people and a dog on board.

There were also reports of swimmers getting into strife at Castaways Beach and the beach access 38 near Picnic Point at Maroochydore.

"People need to remain vigilant about where they swim and stay away from unpatrolled beaches," Mr Tanner said.

"We were just lucky there was a good response from the general public (in this instance)."

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