The National Rescue of the Month Award for July/August has been awarded to teen Travis Owen and his mates. Have a read about their rescue story below.
The decision for Travis Owen and his mates to spend their day off school surfing at a local beach could well be the decision that saved a life.
With a large swell breaking on the coast at South Beach, Port Denison the afternoon of Friday 19 August the four teenagers, all keen surfers, were checking out conditions in front of the Dongara Denison Surf Life Saving Club (SLSC) when they noticed a lone fisherman braving the conditions in a small dinghy approximately 300 meters offshore.
While the boys, former local surf club members’ home from boarding school for the long weekend, were watching the swell rolling through, a large wave hit the small dinghy, capsizing the boat and throwing the fisherman and his gear into the water.
Despite not being current patrolling lifesavers, Travis and his mates knew they had to act fast to help the fisherman. Having gained his Bronze Medallion last summer as a member of the local surf club, Travis took the lead. Travis called his brother Jayden, an experienced surf lifesaver who was at home nearby with keys to the local surf club. He also placed calls to local emergency services for additional help.
Four Rescue Boards were quickly accessed from the surf club and Travis and his three friends paddled out through big seas and cold conditions to assist the elderly fisherman who was now sitting precariously on top of the upturned boat.
The fisherman was helped onto Travis’ rescue board and Travis paddled him back to safety, all of which happened within 30 minutes of the boat capsizing. The boys even managing to retrieve most of the fisherman’s equipment before it sank to the bottom of the ocean.
Suffering only a couple of bruises and some embarrassment, the fisherman admitted he was a tourist to the town and not familiar with the conditions, particularly the large swell. He was extremely thankful and full of praise for the quick actions of Travis and his friends and commented on how well the boys handled the difficult conditions.
“Their maturity, teamwork and the professionalism in which they handled this matter was exceptional and they are a credit to the community and the surf life saving club” he said.
President of Dongara Denison SLSC Rodney Owen commended the boys’ initiative and mentioned his appreciation of the local community.
“It was great that the boys, without hesitation, battled tough and cold conditions to assist a stranger in distress” he said.
“It is also appropriate to thank the local businesses and community groups who support the various clubs and groups who teach and train our youth to be able to assist when situations like this arise.”
On behalf of the surf life saving community, we’d like commend Travis Owen, Taylor Brown, Dan McGuiness and Declan Ridley on their actions that day, and special mention also to Jayden Owen and Jayce Price who assisted on the beach. These people really are our everyday heroes!