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Just before 7am on Friday 20 September the North Coast Branch callout team was asked to respond to a boat capsize south of the Nambucca River bar by the Surf Life Saving NSW State Operations Centre (SOC). Reports included a man was in the water.​

Surf conditions were hazardous with a strong sweep along the beach.

An Ambulance officer reported that when the man was spotted he was not wearing a lifejacket.

Surf Life Saving North Coast Director of Lifesaving Jayne Morrison arrived at Nambucca Heads SLSC shortly after 7am. She set up the IRB and met club members Honi Frewin and Dean Urquhart who launched the IRB and headed to South Beach.

The man had disappeared from sight as the IRB crew went to sea. The crew assisted Marine Rescue and Police in the search for the man as they made their way along the bar and down to South Beach.

An active member of Nambucca Heads for 30 years and member of the club’s 24/7 callout team, Dean said, “The boat capsized about 300 metres offshore and by the time we arrived at South Beach about 20 minutes later the man had washed up on the shore.”

When the IRB reached the location, Dean and Honi commenced CPR on the unconscious man before the Westpac Lifesaver Rescue Helicopter, Police, Ambulance and Marine Rescue arrived.

With no road access to the remote stretch of beach, the Macksville-Scotts Head SLSC team were alerted. They headed north with their beach vehicle to assist at the scene along with Chris Stewart, and transport the man back to the ambulance.

Sadly, the man was pronounced deceased at the scene.

Jayne Morrison said she’s proud of the team’s response and professional actions carried out during this critical incident.

“It’s terribly sad that someone lost their life and we send condolences to the family,” said Jayne. “Our response on a workday was quick and we liaised with the neighbouring Mid-North Coast Branch and the emergency services seamlessly. It was great to see everyone working together so well.”

Between 1 July 2018 – 30 June 2019 there were 44 coastal drowning deaths recorded in NSW, a 22% increase on the previous year. Three deaths were associated with boating and seven occurred in the North Coast region.

Nambucca Heads map

Duty Officer at Namubcca Heads
Duty Officer at Nambucca Bar, Photo by The Nambucca Guardian



Friday 20 September 2019