Lockdown warning on water risk after day of multiple tragedies
Life Saving Victoria is urging swimmers emerging from lockdown to approach the water with extra caution this summer after three people died and a three-year-old child was left in critical condition following separate Victorian water tragedies on Wednesday.
Authorities rescued six people amid multiple drownings on the Mornington Peninsula and South Gippsland coast on a dramatic day for emergency crews that also saw the three-year-old hospitalised after being pulled from a lake near the Dandenong Ranges. Lifesavers were also involved in a number of other life-threatening incidents.
One of the bystanders who jumped in the water on Wednesday to help a group of people swept off rocks at Bushrangers Bay.
Life Saving Victoria general manager Liam Krige said beachgoers emerging from restrictions imposed in the coronavirus pandemic needed to take extra caution after millions of swimming lessons were missed and people were not as physically fit as they would be in a typical year.
"What we've got to remember is that during restrictions there were five million-odd swimming lessons that were missed and their [swimmers'] fitness probably wasn’t where it may have been," Mr Krige said.
"We’ve had a really busy summer this year and seen incidents right across Victoria's coastline … it highlights the need to remain vigilant around water – it's really easy to become complacent.
"There was a lot of activity in a very short space of time. We are just the rescue element – we need to encourage people to keep themselves safe before they get to that point."
The day's first fatality occurred when a man in his 80s died after being pulled unconscious from the water at Rye front beach before a 45-year-old woman died and five others were rescued after a group was swept off rocks at Bushrangers Bay near Flinders.
Several helicopters were deployed to the dramatic scene at Bushrangers Bay at Cape Schanck on the Mornington Peninsula where two men had jumped into the water trying to rescue a group of four women and girls who were swept into the sea by a large wave.
Victoria Police confirmed the 45-year-old woman, a 47-year-old woman, a 19-year-old woman and a 13-year-old girl were swept into the sea about 3.30pm. They were followed by two men, aged 28 and 47, who entered the water to assist the group of four in distress.
Multiple helicopters from Victoria Police, Life Saving Victoria and Air Ambulance scoured the water for the six people, alongside water police and local lifesavers.
Air Ambulance and other emergency services on scene on Wednesday.Credit:Nine News Melbourne
All were pulled from the water, including the deceased woman. Paramedics transported the five survivors to hospital: four to Frankston Hospital and one to Rosebud Hospital.
In January 2019, Melbourne musician Jjay De Melo drowned while swimming with a friend at Bushrangers Bay.
In 2017 seven people were swept off the rocks by a large wave, with one man airlifted to hospital in a critical condition.
The same spot where the group of four were washed away, according to an eyewitness.
The day's third drowning happened on Wednesday night at Venus Bay in Gippsland where, police said, a teenage girl was seen struggling in the water about 7.30pm and a number of people entered the water to help her. One of those who went to help, a woman in her 20s, got into trouble herself.
Police said an off-duty lifeguard pulled the woman from the water and started CPR but could not revive her.
All others involved in the incident came out of the water unharmed, including the teen who had initially been in distress.
Police will prepare reports for the coroner for all three deaths.
Meanwhile, police are also investigating after a three-year-old girl was pulled unconscious from Lysterfield Lake about 5.50pm on Wednesday. Emergency Services worked on the girl and she was revived. She was transferred to the Royal Children's Hospital and remained in a critical condition on Thursday morning.
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