On Sunday 12 February at approximately 5:30pm, Cooks Hill Surf Club Patrol One had signed off. Patrol Captain Mark Doherty was walking to the clubhouse to debrief his team.
Doherty entered the clubrooms and sat down with his team before being notified of two children caught in a rip at off the southern and of the Bar Beach. He ran downstairs to unlock the board room, quickly changed into his swimmers and grabbed a rescue board.
Doherty sprinted down to the south end rip and while paddling out through a 2-3 foot break noticed the children’s father had also entered the water to assist them.
He reached the children aged about nine and seven years old, who were both conscious and in reasonably good spirits. He asked the father if he needed assistance but he said he was ok.
After paddling he glanced sideways noticing the man was not making any ground and without hesitation turned back around to collect him.
Doherty now had the two children on the front of the board and the father hanging onto the side as he padded across the rip to the shallow sand-filled reef.
After reaching shallow water Doherty got off the board and put the father on with the children, pushing them through the chest-deep water into shore.
Once ashore he assessed the condition of the patients, making sure they were breathing and not in any distress. He provided safety advice regarding swimming between the flags, rips and gutters, and the danger of swimming at Bar Beach.
Whilst the father could only speak a little English he appeared appreciative.
Without his swift actions, pro-active thinking and lifesaving ability the outcome could have been much worse for the young family.