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At approximately 12:40pm today, a 44-year-old male surfer was pulled from the water and given CPR by off-duty surf lifesavers after getting into trouble in large swell at Collaroy Beach, Sydney. 

Twelve-year-old Nipper, Sam Chaffer, was at Collaroy beach watching the rough surf conditions when he noticed a surfer struggling to control his board. Assuming he was a beginner, Sam kept a close eye on him.

When the surfer was dragged under the water near a submerged storm water pipe and didn’t resurface, Sam alerted his mother, Carol Chaffer, who is also a surf lifesaver from Collaroy Surf Life Saving Club.

Thinking quickly, Carol Chaffer grabbed a yellow surf rescue tube from the Collaroy SLSC and handed it to a member of the public who ran out along the storm water pipe looking for the surfer who had still not resurfaced.

“We were looking for the guy because he hadn’t resurfaced. After almost two minutes he popped up to the left of the storm water pipe. But he was still connected to his surfboard by the leg rope,” said Carol Chaffer.

“Two members of the public undid his leg rope and swam him back to the shore unconscious and we dragged him up the beach – away from the water. We put him in the recovery position and spent a lot of time clearing his airway because he’d obviously swallowed a lot of water and was foaming at the mouth.

“We began CPR but we had to clear his airway regularly – because he had ingested so much water. I completed about five rounds of compressions before I had to hand over to someone else,” Carol said.

Police arrived at the scene and worked with members of the public to continue CPR and a defibrillator was brought down from the nearby Collaroy Hotel.

Careflight Helicopter paramedics landed at Long Reef Golf Club and joined the police conducting CPR at Collaroy Beach. NSW Ambulance paramedics were also at the scene. The patient was then transported by road to Royal North Shore hospital by Ambulance under police escort. Unfortunatley the man could not be recusitated.

Steven Pearce, CEO of Surf Life Saving NSW, praised Sam Chaffer for raising the alarm when he saw the surfer in distress and his mother, Carol Chaffer, for her efforts in coordinating the surfer’s rescue and beginning CPR.

“Both Carol and Sam epitomise who and what our lifesavers are, no matter whether they are on patrol between the red and yellow flags or off duty. We are incredibly proud of their actions, as we are thoughtful for the friends and family of the man at this time,” said Steven Pearce.

A Hazardous Surf Warning has been issued by the Bureau of Meteorology for NSW for the Coffs Coast, Macquarie Coast, Hunter Coast, Sydney Coast, Illawarra Coast, Batemans Coast and Eden Coast for today and tomorrow.

Since 1 July 2020, five people have drowned on the NSW coastline. During the 2019/20 season, 42 people drowned on the NSW coastline - two above the 10-year average.

Hazardous Surf Conditions Safety Tips:

  • Avoid rock fishing and water activities on exposed beaches/rock-shelves

  • Only swim at patrolled beaches, between the red and 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.

Monday 10 August 2020