Port Macquarie resident Chris Harris is calling for increased surf education for young people after he helped save a boy from treacherous conditions at Flynns Beach.
Chris was at the popular beach at about 2pm on Wednesday, July 15 to check the surf conditions when he spotted a person struggling to keep their head above the water.
He didn't hesitate to jump into action to assist the boy, who he said was in desperate need of help.
Chris grew up in Port Macquarie and is a keen surfer. He is aware of the notorious rips at Flynns Beach which can at times be incredibly dangerous.
The incident unfolded at the northern end of Flynns Beach, where a strong current was flowing across the beach towards the rocks and then out to sea.
Chris got concerned when he saw the boy was losing his footing on the sandbank and anticipated he would be in a life threatening situation within a short space of time.
"I just jumped in because he was in a serious spot," he said.
"You just react."
The boy was pushed to the corner of the rocks and Chris decided to retreat from the water, due to the dangerous current.
Chris managed to swim against the rip back to the shore.
"I was lucky a wave pushed me into where I could start touching the bottom again," he said.
He then ran across the rocks to try and pull the boy up from a higher point.
Chris and another bystander directed the boy to cling onto the rocks, even though he was getting battered up against them, due to the nature of the large waves.
Chris said he knew the situation would only have become worse if the boy had of let go because then he would have been swept around to Rocky Beach.
"I've surfed here all my life and I knew going around there was not something I wanted to do with him," he said.
Bystanders assisted in the rescue by bringing down a surf rescue board to the beach which Chris retrieved.
"I paddled out so I was behind him with the surf rescue board and another guy pulled him out onto the rock," Chris said.
Chris credited the boy as having a fighter attitude and never giving up in light of the challenging situation.
Chris is an experienced surfer and confident swimmer but he said it was a treacherous situation for him to jump into.
Chris has two young kids and said he doesn't have any hesitations about enrolling them in Nippers, so they can become educated about the surf from a young age.
"I think that's the biggest lesson (which came out of the incident)," he said.
"I would like to encourage everybody to learn some beach safety."
James Turnham from Port Macquarie ALS Lifeguards said beaches are not patrolled by lifeguards at this time of year and is urging people to abide by the current warnings in place for the surf conditions.
A strong weather system hit the coastline on Tuesday, July 14 resulting in hazardous surf conditions, large swells and gusty winds.
The conditions continued to impact the coastline on Wednesday, July 15 and Thursday, July 16.
Hazardous Surf Conditions Safety Tips:
- Avoid rock fishing and water activities on exposed beaches/rock-shelves
- Only swim at patrolled beaches, between the red & yellow flags. See the Beachsafe Website for patrolled locations/times
- Check the official Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) forecast before undertaking rock fishing and water activities
- Boaties should seek advice from Marine Rescue NSW and always wear a lifejacket
- If witnessing an in-water emergency dial Triple Zero (000) - Police.
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