HORROR SEASON: More people have drowned on Coast beaches this season than any other in recorded history. Pictured is Senior Lifeguard Matt Hadland at Dicky Beach, where a man drowned Saturday afternoon.
HORROR SEASON: More people have drowned on Coast beaches this season than any other in recorded history. Pictured is Senior Lifeguard Matt Hadland at Dicky Beach, where a man drowned Saturday afternoon. Warren Lynam

Alarming drowning deaths the worst in Coast's history

AN AVOIDABLE tragedy and a spate of rescues capped the worst year for drowning deaths in the Sunshine Coast's recorded history.

Swimmers discovered the lifeless body of a South Korean man, aged in his 60s, face down in unpatrolled surf at Dicky Beach about 2.45pm Saturday.

Lifesavers launched into action, but their swift response and desperate CPR attempts were unsuccessful. After about 30 minutes the man was declared deceased.

The international visitor had been swimming 150m south of the red and yellow flags, and was pronounced dead on the beach with his family nearby.

One third of Queensland's 15 suspected drownings have happened in Sunshine Coast waters this season, from July 1 to yesterday, December 30.

Surf Life Saving Queensland reported a 30 per cent increase in rescues across the state this season; 1222 between July 1 to December 30, compared to 914 during the same period last year.

Surf Life Saving Queensland regional manager Aaron Purchase addressed media after a drowning at Dicky Beach yesterday.
Surf Life Saving Queensland regional manager Aaron Purchase addressed media after a drowning at Dicky Beach on Saturday. Amber Hooker

Five people have now died in suspected drownings on Coast beaches since October.

Three were at Noosa beaches, including two deaths only days apart.

The fourth was a 60-year-old man who drowned at Currimundi Lake on November 25 after he succumbed to an underlying health condition.

Last year, SLSQ reported one of the four drowning deaths in Queensland was on the Coast.

Their Coast Safe Report states in the decade to 2017, 20 people drowned on Sunshine Coast beaches.

Saturday's drowning preceded another 15 rescues performed by lifesavers and lifeguards across Queensland beaches as of 1pm yesterday.

Noosa rescue: Surf lifesavers rescue a teenage boy clinging to rocks in "Hell's Gates", Noosa. Footage: Bridget Thompson.

The day before, Noosa local Bridget Thompson captured the phenomenal moments a teenage boy, believed to be 14, clung to a slippery rock at Hell's Gates, Noosa.

Ms Thompson and about 40 others could hear the boy's cries for help as they waited with bated breath for two rescuers to swim to the boy, before he jumped off his lifeline and they escorted him to a jet ski.

Ms Thompson let out tears, cheered and clapped alongside the others and described the boy's saviours as "superheroes".

Bridget Thompson captured a rescue in Hell's Gates, Noosa on film.
Bridget Thompson captured a rescue in Hell's Gates, Noosa on film.

SLSQ regional manager Aaron Purchase said lifesavers were unaware of the circumstances that led to the potentially deadly situation, but urged people to avoid rocky areas and asked parents to keep a close eye on their children.

Mr Purchase said any rescue took a toll on those involved, including lifesavers.

He said the recent tragedies again highlighted the importance of swimming between the red and yellow flags.

"In the history of Surf Life Saving we haven't had any issues in the flagged area, that's why we keep pushing that same message," Mr Purchase said.

How could tragedies on our beaches be reduced?

This poll ended on 30 January 2019.

Current Results

More education around beach safety.

20%

More common sense in rough conditions.

80%

I'm not sure.

0%

This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.

An experienced surfer became the weekend's first victim when he came off his board, smacked his head into the sand and suffered a head, neck and potential spinal injury.

Lifesavers helped him before patrols began on Mooloolaba Beach at 7am, and paramedics transported him to the Sunshine Coast University Hospital.

Lifesavers and life guards are reporting busy days as thousands of people flock to Sunshine Coast beaches. Pictured are crowds at Mooloolaba Main Beach on Sunday.
Lifesavers and life guards are reporting busy days as thousands of people flock to Sunshine Coast beaches. Pictured are crowds at Mooloolaba Main Beach on Sunday. Amber Hooker

A 47-year-old jet skier and a woman who could not swim, but was outside the flags, were rescued in separate Coast incidents about midday Saturday.

Sunshine Coast Water Police found swimmers were not the only ones putting themselves in harm's way.

Senior Constable Murray Lyons said between Boxing Day and 4pm yesterday, 73 marine infringement notices were issued including 27 for speeding and 17 for failing to carry required safety equipment.

A notice to appear was issued for a low-range drink driver, and unregistered vessel on the Noosa River.

Patrol times at main beaches are between 7am and 6pm with extra support from wave runners, and a minimum twice-daily helicopter patrol.