A body boarder in his 30s has been confirmed dead after wiping out on Broadbeach at the Gold Coast on Thursday morning.
The Brisbane Times reported that the man was pulled from the water at about 8:30 a.m., after suffering a suspected head injury. Chief Lifeguard Warren Young described the grim unfolding to Fairfax: “Two surfers noticed a body board rider catch a large wave, get into the barrel and then wipe out,” Mr Young recalls. “He didn’t resurface but his board did, so they saw him and hauled him up straightaway.”
The victim received 15 minutes of CPR from lifeguards, followed by 55 minutes from paramedics, but did not regain consciousness. Paramedic Jaye Newton confirmed that the man had gone into cardiac arrest by the time the ambulance had arrived. The Northern Rivers Echo related that he was pronounced dead at 9:50 a.m.
The young man is the latest casualty in a summer of drownings. Prior to Australia Day, the Sydney Morning Herald relays that a significant increase in drownings was reported. Since the beginning of Summer there had been 59 deaths in Australian waterways, representing nearly one a day, and a 16% increase since the same period last year. At the time, the Royal Life Saving Society issued a drowning risk warning for Australia Day.
The Royal Life Saving Report from the 2014 – 15 summer indicate the Broadbeach body boarder to be in the unfortunate majority. 62% of drownings in Australian waterways last year occurred in the state of Queensland and an overwhelming 80% of victims were male. However, this also does not account for drownings within pools.
Amy Peden, the National Manager of Research and Policy for Royal Life Saving spoke to Fairfax Media about the reasons for this. “Men tend to undertake riskier behavior than women,” she explained. “When they’re out with their mates, they are not as likely to wear a lifejacket and are more likely to drink alcohol.”
With surfers flocking to the Gold Coast for “cyclone-generated” swells and another near-drowning reported on Monday, Gold Coast life guards are urging all surfers to be sensible. While Warren Young states that the Thursday casualty “didn’t do much wrong,” he stands by his message for the week “if in doubt, don’t go out.”