THE notorious rip at Burrill Inlet could well have claimed another life recently, except for the quick thinking of 15-year-old twin brothers.
Ben and Gene Johns of Burrill Lake helped prevent tragedy when they plucked a terrified and crying young child from the water as he was being dragged out by the rip on January 25.
The boys had gone to Burrill Inlet for a surf, with Gene first to hit the water while Ben was still putting on his wetsuit.
Ben said he was walking across the strong current of water heading out of the lake and into the ocean when he saw the young boy, aged about six or seven, playing with his body board on the ripples caused as the current hit the ocean.
An adult standing nearby told the child to get out of the water, “but then he just walked away,” Ben said.
Moments later the child was sucked out by a strong current and was about 30 metres from the shore, struggling to stay afloat as he ditched his body board.
The boys had been taught by their dad Darren how to use rips to their advantage when surfing, and Ben grabbed his board and jumped into the rip to paddle out to the child.
As Gene paddled across from another section of the beach, Ben reached the youngster who was screaming and crying.
“I just grabbed him and I was telling him to calm down,” Ben recalled.
Ben helped the youngster get back on his board and held him to the board as he swam the child back to shore.
While they were hit by a few sets of waves, Ben managed to get the child to a sand bank and he simply ran off.
Gene arrived on the scene after rescuing Ben’s board and flippers just as adults on the beach approached Ben to congratulate him and thank him for the rescue.
“I was trying to paddle there from 100, 200 metres away through all these waves,” Gene said.
“But just when I got there I wasn’t needed any more.
“I was there for backup in case anything went wrong,” Gene said.
The twins said they had no idea who the adults who approached them on the beach were, and whether any were related to the child.
However Ben said he felt like giving someone a lecture about the dangers of the rip and outgoing current, particularly as the incident happened only a short distance from a sign warning about the dangerous current, put in by other concerned residents.
“Someone should be telling people not to go in there,” Ben said.
He is not the only family member frustrated at repeated problems at the inlet, and a lack of action to protect lives.
“I’ve been yelling at people trying to get them out,” Gene said.
“I don’t think there are enough warnings about the rip there,” Mr Johns said.
“There definitely needs to be a lot more awareness.”
The boys said the rip that sucked out the young boy was the same one that dragged out a man in December 2011, resulting in him drowning at the beach.
LIFE SAVERS: After rescuing a young child caught in a rip, twin brothers Gene and Ben Johns say more needs to be done to warn people about treacherous conditions at Burrill Inlet.
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