Surf Life Saving WA announces recipients of coastal bravery awards

Stock image.
Stock image.

SURF Life Saving WA has announced its Coastal Bravery Awards, with 22 people honoured for their courage in helping others.

They are stories of ordinary Australians doing extraordinary things when the time comes to act.

The stories are harrowing but always inspirational, and we should all wish for a little of their bravery.

The full list of recipients is below:

Silver Medallion for Bravery – Citizens Award 

Jesse Liddon (South Fremantle), Sam Liddon (Margaret River), Jack Cox (Fremantle)

29/4/2017

Jesse, Sam and Jack were crew members on board a cray fishing vessel working off the Abrolhos Islands when they spotted, some distance away on the other side of the reef, an upturned vessel.

Choosing to navigate across the reef from their relatively protected waterway into extreme conditions and massive swell, which saw waves breaking over the stern of their vessel, the crew put their own lives at risk in their efforts to reach the capsized vessel and its crew, all of whom were in the water.

Were it not for the courage and determination of the men it is unlikely that the five crew members of the capsized vessel, including one who had sustained serious head injuries and was unconscious, would have survived much longer having already been in the remote waters for nearly two hours.

Gold Medallion for Exceptional Bravery

Jack Wroth (unknown), Hamish Beck (Mosman Park), Brent Dunn (Kingsley)

29/4/2017

On a fishing trip off the remote Abrolhos Island, the crew of five were caught out after large swells and king waves caused their boat to capsize.

All crew members sustained injuries during the event, with one being knocked unconscious and suffering serious head injuries, requiring mouth to mouth to be administered while in the water to restore his breathing.

The crew spent nearly 2 hours in the water, with our three award recipients supporting their more seriously injured members before being rescued by the crew of a cray fishing vessel.

It is almost certain that had it not been for the actions of these three men in those interceding hours that the injured crew members, would not have survived.

It was later revealed that, while the men had located and activated their EPIRD, the device was found to be faulty with no signal emitted, meaning no one was aware of their location.

Bronze Medallion for Courage – Youth Award

Finn McIntyre (East Fremantle)

13/7/2017

Holidaying with his family in Karijini National Park in the Pilbara, Finn – a youth member of Fremantle Surf Life Saving Club – jumped into a gorge when he saw a father holding a young baby, appearing to get into trouble in the water.

With water temperatures in the gorges near freezing, the man appeared to lose his footing, slipping under the water while holding the baby up in front of him.

Recognising the potential risk, Finn jumped into the cold waters and swam to the opposite side of the gorge, climbing onto a ledge in order to remove the baby from the father’s hands, enabling the father to move to swim to a more secure and safe location to recover.

Just 12 years old at the time, Finn showed composure and bravery beyond his years, jumping without hesitation into action to avert what could have become a far more serious situation, an act which Finn’s family credits to his involvement in surf lifesaving, providing him with the skills, confidence and presence of mind to act.

Bronze Medallion for Courage – Youth Award

Chloe Ling (Point Samson)

14/4/2017

On a camping trip with her family in a remote area of the Pilbara, Chloe jumped into action when her father, suffering an allergic reaction, went into anaphylactic shock.

Finding him collapsed, Chloe helped her mother tow her father across the river to where their vehicle was located, placed a call to emergency services, supported her father’s head ensuring he maintained a clear airway, and kept him hydrated and calm while he was barely conscious as her mother drove them to seek further help.

Only 13 years old at the time of the incident, Chloe showed composure and maturity in a highly stressful situation. Having recently attained her Surf Rescue Certificate at the Port Walcott Surf Life Saving Club, her family credits this training with enabling her to respond.

Silver Medallion for Bravery – Citizens Award

Joella Enderes (Augusta)

25/10/2017

Joella entered the water unassisted to rescue a young girl in a kayak who had been swept out to sea by a strong current.

The five-year-old girl was playing with friends close to the shore at the Augusta dog beach when the kayak she was seated in was suddenly picked up by a strong current and swept out to sea.

Working at a nearby café and witnessing the event, and observing that no other bystanders on the beach moved to act, Joella entered the cold water, swimming some 500m off shore to the aid of the visibly distressed young girl, climbing into the kayak to comfort her before paddling them back into shore.

Police and Water Rescue called to the scene said there was a strong offshore wind with the kayak moving out to sea at an alarming rate and, were it not for the quick actions of Joella, the outcome would likely have been very different.

Silver Medallion for Bravery – Citizens Award

Peter Lane (Kingsley), Lisa Dolin (Kingsley)

25/12/2017

Peter and Lisa entered the water at Sorrento Beach that evening in search of a family member who, in a distressed state, had entered the ocean and disappeared from sight. It was nearly 8pm, with only reflected light available making visibility very poor, and conditions were described as rough with
strong winds and currents.

Suffering physical and mental fatigue, Peter and Lisa were in the water, wading and swimming, for nearly 20 minutes in search of the young man, only returning to shore when ordered by on-duty paramedic Troy Shepphard, who swam out past them when Peter thought he had heard a call from further out in the water.

In their efforts to locate their family member, the recipients showed little regard for their own safety.

Gold Medallion for Exceptional Bravery

Troy Sheppard (Two Rocks)

25/12/2017

As an on duty paramedic, Troy was called out that evening to assist in the transport of a patient, who was described as being in a distressed state.

Prior to the ambulance arriving the patient had fled, disappearing into the waters off Sorrento Beach, outside of the safety net.

At nearly 8pm in the evening visibility was extremely poor, with only light from the torches of onlookers to assist in the search, and conditions were described as rough with strong currents.

Standing on the shore with onlookers, Troy immediately entered the water when the young man’s father, who was in the water searching for his son, thought he had heard him further out to sea. In the dark, Troy swam more than 100m off shore in search of the young man, eventually locating and bringing him back to the beach safely.

In assessing his nomination, it was deemed that Troy had gone above and beyond his duty as a paramedic, putting his own life in danger in an effort to save another.

Silver Medallion for Bravery – Lifesavers Award

Samuel Carroll (Wembley), Steven Carroll (Wembley)

15/4/2017

Father and son Steve and Sam, both members of Floreat Surf Life Saving Club, were with their family at remote Gnaraloo station late one afternoon.

With deep strong currents the area is popular for drift diving and conditions on that day were described as difficult with large swell and waves
crashing on the reef. There had also been a shark sighting in the area the day before.

There was only one other group on the beach that afternoon, consisting of three tourists who had been consuming alcohol. Clearly underestimating the conditions, a young woman from the group ventured into the water and it soon became evident that she was in trouble, with the strong current quickly carrying her a long way off shore.

Recognising that the woman was in distress, Steve and Sam donned their fins and, with no flotation aids available, headed into the water, swimming some 700m off-shore in challenging conditions to reach the woman, before towing her back to safety.

At the time of the incident, Sam was only 13.

Bronze Medallion for Courage – Youth Award

25/12/2017

Harry Collins (Secret Harbour)

Having recently completed his Surf Rescue Certificate at Secret Harbour Surf Life Saving Club, Harry was performing a volunteer patrol on Christmas Day at Secret Harbour, with more than 1500 beach goers enjoying the warm weather.

With a reasonable swell, a deep inshore trough and shallow sand bar, conditions were optimal for the development of strong currents and rips, with various areas on the beach signposted no swimming.

With many beachgoers demonstrating minimal experience in the surf, lifesavers were kept busy going to the aid of people in distress.

On more than eight occasions, Harry was called on to go to the aid of swimmers struggling to stay afloat in the strong currents, repeatedly having to jump off his own Rescue Board to grab a small child or adult in difficulty.

At just 13, Harry demonstrated extraordinary character and courage and is to be commended for his actions on this day.

Gold Medallion for Exceptional Bravery

18/2/2018

Jason Johansson (Capel)

Travelling down Bussell Highway through Capel, Jason was forced off the road by a vehicle driving erratically on the wrong side of the road.

Concerned with what other road users may encounter, Jason turned around to follow the vehicle, coming across a horrific accident scene which included vehicles in flames.

Despite the danger, Jason approaching one of the burning vehicles, checking the drivers vital signs before going to the rear of the car to attach a tow rope so as he could pull it clear of the flames and out danger.

Jason stayed with the driver, who had suffered catastrophic injuries, until an off-duty nurse took over at which point he continued to assist ambulance officers who had arrived on scene with administering first aid to the driver of the car who had caused the accident.

It was later revealed that up to 20 vehicles were forced off the road during the horrifying incident, which saw the driver of the offending vehicle purposefully cause the crash.

In assessing the nomination, it was deemed Jason, who is a volunteer surf lifesaver at Busselton Surf Life Saving Club, had knowingly placed his own life in peril in his attempts to aid others.

Gold Medallion for Exceptional Bravery

17/4/2017

Leon Brouwer (Singleton)

While out surfing with his daughter Laeticia at Kelp Beds surf break in Esperance, Leon witnessed her being attacked by a great white shark.

Without hesitation, and giving no thought as to his own safety, Leon swam towards both the shark and his daughter, putting himself in extreme danger in his efforts to save her, bringing her into shore where he was able to commence first aid.

Silver Medallion for Bravery – Citizens Award

17/4/2017

Julie Brouwer (Singleton), Alyssa Brouwer (Singleton)

Watching their daughter and sister, Laeticia, surfing from the beach, Julie and Alyssa witnessed the moment she was attacked by a great white shark. Alyssa, who was only 16 at the time, reacted immediately, flagging down a vehicle that was travelling along the beach for help.

She then assisted with the application of a leg rope as a tourniquet on her sister’s amputated leg, before applying pressure with her body weight and towels. Once further help arrived, Alyssa comforted her younger sister who had also witnessed the attack.

Julie also moved to respond, assisting in administering first aid on her daughter while they awaited further help.

Laeticia Brouwer doing what she loved.

Silver Medallion for Bravery – Citizens Award

17/4/2017

Lydia Watts (Marmion)

Travelling along the beach in the vehicle that was flagged down by Alyssa Brouwer, Lydia showed no hesitation in running down into the water to assist Laeticia’s father in bringing her up onto the beach.

Once on the beach, Lydia commenced administering first aid and CPR on Laeticia until the arrival of another individual who was a nurse.

Lydia then moved to provide comfort and distraction to Laeticia’s sisters, whom she observed watching from a nearby car. Lydia, who is a member of Sorrento Surf Life Saving Club and had completed her Surf Rescue Certificate, was just 13 at the time of the incident.

Gold Medallion for Exceptional Bravery

3/3/2018

Regan McMahon (Cervantes)

Regan went to the aid of a father and his two children who had been left stranded on rocks after their boat lost anchor and drifted away during their trip off Cervantes.

With emergency services alerted when the trio’s empty vessel was located, it was around 9pm in the evening, with visibility very poor, when Mr McMahon entered the dark waters towing a life jacket and life ring, traversing across reef to go to the aid of the family.

He then assisted them off the rocks into the dark waters, calming the young children as they swam towards the moored rescue boat.

In going to the aid of the family Mr McMahon placed himself in peril, entering the water at night, in rough conditions with large waves washing over exposed reef and rocks which was also home to a colony of sea lions.

Silver Medallion for Bravery – Lifesavers Award

31/12/2017

Thalia Gray (Hamersley)

Visiting Lucky Bay in Esperance with her family, Tahlia, along with her father, went to the assistance of a family who had been caught by a rip and washed some distance off shore.

Conditions that day were described as difficult with a large swell and strong winds and currents.

With minimal aids, Tahlia acted quickly, heading out to assist the father and two children who were clearly in distress and unable to make their own way back to the beach.

Instructing the children to take hold of the small boogie board she had acquired, Tahlia calmed the children while coaching them back through the surf to the shore, a journey which took nearly 20 minutes.

Tahlia was only 13 at the time of the incident and is a member of Trigg Island Surf Life Saving Club.