An Australian man is being called a hero after he drowned trying to save another man’s children from the ocean in Wollongong over the weekend.
According to reports, 32-year-old Shaun Oliver was walking along the beach at around 4:30 p.m. when he spotted another man struggling to rescue his four children from rough surf. Two of them were safely on shore, but, after getting caught in a strong rip, two others, aged 10 and 12, remained in the water unable to get to safety.
Oliver was a father of three and was visiting NSW on business when the incident occurred. “It was an heroic act but it has, unfortunately, cost him his life,” Detective Inspector Brad Ainsworth, Wollongong Local Area Command told reporters. “I believe he was just walking along the beach and he has just acted.”
It wasn’t just the man who died who was a hero, either–while he was trying to save the 12-year-old, an off-duty paramedic at the beach with his wife helped pull the 10-year-old to safety. Then, however, Oliver got into trouble himself. A surfer nearby paddled over and completed the rescue on the 12-year-old, but Oliver was swept out to sea. He was found soon afterward by police officers who brought him to shore. Paramedics worked on him for an undetermined amount of time, but he died later that day in Wollongong hospital.
The beach where the incident occurred was closed at the time. “… there was treacherous conditions, there was a heavy surf, the beach was closed, it wasn’t patrolled,” Detective Inspector Brad Ainsworth said. “Unfortunately, they’ve entered the water and it’s resulted in the death of a hero.”
Surf Life Saving NSW Illawarra duty officer Daren Weidner agreed with Ainsworth’s sentiments. “They’ve ventured out into dangerous seas,” he said. “There’s a rather hazardous swell warning issued this weekend. We’ve seen seas and waves of three to four meters,” he said on Sunday afternoon. People need to heed the warnings and make sure they don’t go in dangerous surf and unpatrolled beaches.”
Our sincerest condolences to the family, friends, and all those affected by the tragic passing of Shaun Oliver.