Stab Magazine | A Surfer Died In Sydney After Being Dragged Beneath A Storm Drain

A Surfer Died In Sydney After Being Dragged Beneath A Storm Drain

Despite a commendable life-saving effort, the man could not be resuscitated. 

news // Aug 11, 2020
Words by stab
Reading Time: 2 minutes

Along with Australia’s historic run of surf comes a mounting death toll. 

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, six people have drowned on the New South Wales coast since the beginning of July, the most recent coming just yesterday, when a 44-year-old man was dragged beneath a storm drain at Collaroy Beach and was unable to be resuscitated. 

The full story, as told by SMH

Carol Chaffer, an off-duty member of the Collaroy SLSC, was alerted by her son Sam, 12, that the surfer had been dragged under the water and hadn’t resurfaced.

Ms Chaffer grabbed a yellow surf rescue tube and handed it to a member of the public who ran out along the pipe looking for the surfer who had still not resurfaced.

“After almost two minutes he popped up to the left of the stormwater pipe. But he was still connected to his surfboard by the leg rope,” Ms Chaffer said.

“We put him in the recovery position and spent a lot of time clearing his airway because he’d obviously swallowed a lot of water and was foaming at the mouth.

Ms Chaffer said she completed five rounds of CPR compressions before another person took over.

Police, paramedics and the CareFlight helicopter all arrived shortly after, and the man was taken to Royal North Shore Hospital on land, but could not be revived.

Steven Pearce, chief executive of Surf Life Saving NSW, praised Sam for raising the alarm when he saw the surfer in distress and his mother for her efforts in co-ordinating the surfer’s rescue and beginning CPR.

“Both Carol and Sam epitomise who and what our lifesavers are, no matter whether they are on patrol between the red and yellow flags or off duty. We are incredibly proud of their actions, as we are thoughtful for the family of this young man,” Mr Pearce said.

The surf in Sydney yesterday was large and ugly. A video of the now-deceased man entering the water on a long-ish board can be found here. He was, apparently, the only one in the water when the incident occurred. 

Any committed surfer reading this has had a scare with a jetty, pier, or pipe in their lifetime. A story like this makes you realize that you mightn’t always be so lucky. A snagged leash or a conked head is all it takes.

Not to be dark, but it’s worth thinking about next time you consider paddling out alone in stormsurf. The ocean, as we know, is an untamable mare. 

Our condolences to this charger’s loved ones, and our appreciation to those who tried to save him.  



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