“My heart was pumping, I was a bit scared but I just knew we had to go out and help him.”
This was the reaction of 19-year-old swimming teacher Aimee Carlin who was one of the rescuers of Jai Darr, the man caught in a rip at Tuncurry Beach on January 7.
“I was taking my dog for a walk with my sister and cousin and we were at the end of the breakwall where we saw a man halfway out who we could see was in trouble.
“I could see him going under and could see everyone flustered, didn’t know what to do so I thought if we leave him out there then he’s going to be in more trouble.
“His hand shot up and he was yelling out ‘help me please, somebody help me’ so I ran down onto the beach and there was a couple of other people on the beach trying to get help and ring the ambulance and then with Lucas, the other kid who was with me, we both decided to go in and swim out to him because we knew we were strong swimmers,” Aimee said.
Lucas Kloosterhof was walking down the beach with two friends when a man came up to them and asked if they had a surfboard.
“I said ‘nah’ and he said ‘there’s a guy stuck out in a rip there’. So I decided to go out there and help him,” Lucas said.
“I was thinking where do I go, do I go out with the rip which would be quicker to get to him or do I go out beside the rip which would be safer for me.
“I chose to go out beside it and slowly go in to him and help him out.”
Aimee joined Lucas at the scene soon after.
“We just had to make sure his head was out of the water, he was swallowing a lot of water out there and he was exhausted, not kicking or paddling, and sinking under,” she said.
The duo got him to shore and, with help of some adults, put him in the recovery position, made sure he had no water in his mouth, was breathing and remained conscious. They wrapped him in clothes and towels and waited with him until emergency services arrived.
“We just had to keep checking on him to make sure he wasn’t vomiting,” Aimee added.
Aimee is a learn-to-swim teacher from Emu Plains in Western Sydney.
She teaches young children freestyle and backstroke and has CPR (cardio pulmonary resuscitation) and first aid training.
She never imagined she would have to make a beach rescue.
We just had to make sure his head was out of the water, he was swallowing a lot of water out there and he was exhausted, not kicking or paddling, and sinking underAimee Carlin
“We live on a river so we’re not at beaches,” she said.
“We’ve done training for it at work but I never thought I’d have to apply it.”
Fourteen-year-old Lucas is a member of the Black Head Surf Live Saving Club and had his first successful beach patrol in 2017.
“This is my second year and I did my SRC (surf rescue certificate) in the winter before. This year I’m hopefully going for my bronze (medallion),” he said.
“I’ve been doing Nippers since I was eight years old so throughout all the years I’ve been there progressing, getting better and better.”
He is still coming to terms with his act of bravery.
“I was just trying to do what I’ve been taught and trying to remember the main things,” he said.
Lucas’ mum Kristen added that the family live at Firefly, a considerable distance from any beach on the Mid North Coast.
“His only exposure is Nippers on a Sunday, he hasn’t grown up with the surf,” she said.
Lower North Coast Surf Live Saving president Brian Wilcox said the incident presents a timely reminder to be safe in the water.
I was just trying to do what I’ve been taught and trying to remember the main thingsLucas Kloosterhof
“Swim at a patrolled beach, swim between the flags where you can be actively observed for what’s happening and if you get in trouble, somebody can save you,” he said.
Aimee and Lucas highlighted the importance of staying calm and knowing what to do when caught in a rip.