A heartbreaking detail has emerged after the death of a man in Queensland on Sunday, following a spate of recent tragedies.
A man who drowned in a popular Queensland tourist spot died trying to save his young son who had fallen into the water, as Australia’s horror drowning death toll continues to soar.
The 49-year-old father died at Wappa Falls on the Sunshine Coast shortly before 2pm on Sunday, January 2.
Queensland Police later confirmed the child had been rescued, and that the man’s body was recovered at around 6.30pm that evening following an extensive search.
“A family and several other civilians were at the waterfall when the young child has gotten into trouble and fallen into the waterfall area,” police district duty officer Brett Young said yesterday.
“The father entered the water to retrieve his young son and unfortunately the father has slipped in the water and not re-emerged.
“The child was retrieved by other witnesses that saw the event.”
It comes amid a recent spate of drownings across the nation, sparking a grim water safety warning from emergency services.
Also on Sunday, a rock fisherman, who was not wearing a life jacket, died in NSW’s Illawarra region after being swept into the water at around 12.50pm at Windang Island.
The 21-year-old’s body was found a short time later.
Three other drowning deaths also occurred across the state in recent days, including another rock fisherman at Turimetta Beach in Warriewood, a 15-year-old boy at Shoalhaven River in Burrier, and an 18-year-old man in the Murray River at Albury.
Meanwhile, the Adelaide community has also been rocked by the drowning death of 17-year-old local Amy Staunton, who died on New Year’s Eve after falling off a barge at Marks Landing, south of Swan Reach.
The teenager’s body was recovered at around 2pm the next day by divers.
Two men were also rescued on Sunday after their boat capsized in Maroubra in Sydney, while two jetski riders separately got into trouble near the NSW-Queensland border on the same day.
On Saturday, a man in his 50s was rescued after getting into difficulties at Palm Beach in NSW, while a 42-year-old man remains missing after attempting to swim to shore from a boat at a dam in Bathurst on Christmas Day.
The spike in fatalities and near-misses has prompted both NSW Police and Surf Life Saving NSW to issue an urgent warning to the public, with Surf Life Saving NSW CEO Steve Pearce revealing it was the busiest period in five years.
“The start to the new year has presented an extremely challenging period for our volunteer lifesavers and lifeguards up and down the NSW coastline,” Mr Pearce said.
“Hot temperatures, challenging surf conditions and massive crowds all contributed to the busiest operational period in five years. The multiple rescues, resuscitations and fatalities we have seen this weekend are a tragic reminder that beach safety is of the utmost importance when you take a trip to the coastline.
“We are so fortunate to have fantastically skilled and resourced lifesavers and lifeguard services up and down our coastline. These men and women have definitely saved dozens of lives these last two days.”
Marine Area Commander Superintendent Murray Reynolds said police will continue to do everything in their power to keep people safe on the water.
“The most difficult part of our work is when someone dies or is seriously injured and we know it could have been prevented,” he said.
“These deaths are incredibly tragic. Our heart goes out to the loved ones of the people who recently lost their lives in the water.
“We’re asking the community to help us keep you safe, always assess the environment and take simple precautions to prevent tragedy.”
Police are urging Aussies to stay out of the water if they can’t swim, to always wear a life jacket, to only swim in patrolled waterways and to be aware of all conditions.
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