Skip to main content

Sunday 27 December 2020: Near-record crowds flock to Sydney’s beaches after a wet Christmas. Surf Life Saving Sydney Support Ski operator Kane Hughes described the day as the busiest he had experienced in a long time along the Bate Bay stretch.

At Wanda Beach there was over 40 rescues alone that day, but there was one rescue that could have resulted in a tragic double fatality if it wasn’t for the quick thinking of off-duty lifesaver Lachlan Crawford.  

Just before 3pm when the beach was at capacity, 21-year-old Lachlan went for a swim in front of Track 15, south of the patrolled area at Wanda Beach.

Lachlan noticed two people struggling to keep their heads above water so made his way towards the female in her 20s while surfers assisted the male in his 40s.

Kane Hughes saw the lifeguard buggie moving quickly up the beach so launched his ski and met the team on the sand between Elouera and Wanda where the incident was unfolding.

“There were so many people in the water, the ski simply couldn’t get through to assist, so I beached it and helped set up the oxygen and defib. We could see the patients weren’t in good shape and everyone just quickly and seamlessly worked together to assist however they could,” Kane Hughes said.

Sutherland Lifeguard John Hayman paddled out on a rescue board and took the female patient who was the most serious, from Lachlan who was supporting her limp body in the water.

Once back on the beach, Kane assisted John in moving the female patient from the water and began first aid treatment.

The Elouera roving patrol members arrived and took over treatment of the male. After a quick assessment of the two patients two ambulances were requested.

The woman regained consciousness on the beach in the hands of a competent team before being transported to hospital in a critical condition.

The male who was assisted to shore by surfers was treated for shock on the beach and with the help of lifeguards was also transported to hospital.

“The club is so proud of the immediate actions Lachlan took to preserve the woman’s life. If he wasn’t there she would have lost her life. He did everything right,” said Wanda SLSC Club Captain Michael Bonnici.

“Everyone in our club trains hard and is always around, the beach is our way of life and we’re very proud of the culture and helping nature of everyone. Even when our members aren’t on patrol, they’re so vigilant, just like Lachlan was this day. He was just out for a swim and he saw someone in danger and reacted instantly,” he said.

After the incident Kane Hughes reflected on the capability of the lifesaving team, “The whole response was so streamlined,” Kane. “We’ve got great leadership in the Bate Bay area and really good attitudes. The success of this rescue demonstrates the great cohesive working relationship we all have – the council lifeguards, the four surf clubs and the Support Operations team – especially when it counts.”

Lachlan Crawford (Wanda SLSC), Kane Hughes (Surf Life Saving Sydney Support Operations  Ski), John Hayman and Cameron Pyett (Sutherland Shire Council Lifeguards) as well as Elouera SLSC have been awarded the Surf Life Saving NSW Rescue of the Month for December 2020 in recognition of the successful rescue of two people and the teamwork demonstrated that day.


Wednesday 31 March 2021