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A mass rescue effort in the Illawarra has unfortunately resulted in the death of a man and six other males receiving CPR or first aid after their boat overturned at Waniora Point, Bulli on Sunday morning.

More than 60 members across four surf lifesaving clubs were involved in the rescue following reports a vessel had capsized at about 10.20am – a rescue which has since been recognised by Surf Life Saving NSW as the Rescue of the Month.

Bulli SLSC, supported by Sandon Point SLSC, Woonona SLSC and Thirroul SLSC, responded and deployed Inflatable Rescue Boats (IRBs) within two minutes of the report coming through.

In a fortunate turn of events, Bulli was preparing for a search and rescue exercise at the time, unrelated to the incident, and had boats and jetskis ready to go onshore which allowed for the quick response time.

When rescuers got to the boat, multiple persons were found to be caught in the hull, with lifesavers diving underneath to extract them.

Four of the men were found to be unconscious and were transported back to Sandon Point beach, while three other men were treated with oxygen and first aid onshore.

Local surfers who were in the water nearby assisted with the rescue effort, as did Illawarra Duty Officers.

Once on the beach, CPR was commenced on the four unconscious men by lifesavers, paramedics and members of the public and continued before they were transported by helicopter or road ambulance to hospital.

Bulli SLSC President Jamie Caldwell said the mass rescue and resuscitation was a whole of community effort.

“It was chaos out there. When we got to the boat, the surfers were right there too, they were really amazing.”

A full incident debrief was conducted following the event and lifesavers involved have been offered critical incident support services.

Conditions at the time were hazardous and there was a surf warning in place, issued by the Bureau of Meteorology.

Monday 1 November 2021