26 Year Old Australian Boy Saved 3 People

Brett Perry, 26, was at Waitpinga beach with friends about 3.30pm yesterday when he heard four men screaming for help.

Without thinking of his own safety, Mr Perry grabbed his girlfriend's bodyboard and raced into the water to assist the men, who had been pulled about 100m offshore by a rip current.

He spent at least 15 minutes ferrying two teenage boys, 15 and 17, and their family friend, 34, to the shore.

"We weren't making much ground because the rip was so strong," Mr Perry says.
"I tried to tow them in but it was hard with the waves. As each wave came in they'd get knocked off the board."

Each time Mr Perry swam back out into the treacherous waves, the group was pulled further from the shore.

"The rip kept taking them out," he says.

"I just kept telling them to hold on to the board and not to hold on to each other."

Mr Perry was visibly shaken as he spoke of the moment the teenage boy's father, 48, lost grip of the bodyboard.

"At one stage I thought I'd got them all in but then things deteriorated," he says.

"I was extremely frustrated. I just didn't feel that I could get them all in."

Mr Perry battled to hold the man's head above the water as the Westpac rescue helicopter came into view.

"It's very lucky that the surf life saving helicopter got there in the end because I wasn't going to get in," he said.

"I don't know how much longer I could have stayed out there with him. I was exhausted."

Tragically, the man was unable to be revived by emergency crews.

Mr Perry says he did not approach the family after the heroic rescue because he did not want to intrude as they were grieving.

"I don't think it's my place to be near them when they are in that condition," he says.

He brushed aside suggestions he was a hero and said anyone who had been in the same position would have helped the stricken group.

"I don't feel like a hero," he says.

"I'd feel a lot better if I had got all of them in."

Mr Perry urged people not to swim at the notorious beach, which is littered with warning signs to alert beachgoers to the strong currents, high waves and deep gutters.

"Just don't," he says.

"Don't go in if you can't handle the waves. Don't go in alone."

Surf Life Saving state manager Shane Daw says Waitpinga and nearby Parsons beach are not safe for swimming or surfing.

"These beaches are highly dangerous and are not suitable for recreational swimming," he says.

Neither Waitpinga or Parsons are patrolled by life savers, although they are included in the Westpac Rescue Helicopter's patrols on weekends and public holidays.

Mr Daw says because of this, help can be a long way away for swimmers who do get into trouble.

"When the gentleman drowned on Australia Day we were only 10 minutes away in the helicopter," he says.

"But that can be the difference between a successful rescue and a drowning death."

The Highbury man's death is the seventh coastal drowning this summer. Twelve people drowned at South Australian beaches last summer.


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