A “dreadfully unfortunate accident” was how Hunter Surf Life Saving president Henry Scruton described the tragic death of a teenager that has shaken the Newcastle community.
The 16-year-old boy drowned after jumping off rocks between Susan Gilmore beach and Bar Beach about 3.30pm on Sunday.
The Merewether High student was with a group of friends at the time but did not resurface after a jump.
The exact details of what occurred are not known, but he was eventually pulled from the water by an air crew paramedic and assisted into an inflatable rescue boat.
He was taken to the shore at Cooks Hill surf club but could not be revived.
“The surf lifesavers will keep going and going and going, but as soon as the ambos arrived they virtually declared him deceased,” Mr Scruton said. “But the surf lifesavers were trying their hardest to revive him.”
Lifesavers from multiple clubs assisted in the incident and about 15 to 20 members from Cooks Hill and Dixon Park were directly involved.
“We’re trained and trained and trained to do [resuscitation], you do CPR and they should get up and be able to go home. But unfortunately this one didn’t work that way,” Mr Scruton said.
“It’s really shattering, not only for the family that was there, but for all those involved in trying to resus him.
“Everybody tried their best but unfortunately it wasn’t successful in this particular incident.”
Mr Scruton said the unpatrolled rocks were a popular spot with teenagers.
“They can jump in the ocean, cool down very quickly, scamper up on the rocks and jump in again,” he said.
“It’s quite a popular spot for the youth.”
It is understood an emergency phone call was made from the scene on Sunday and lifesaving authorities were notified.
Mr Scruton said the boy’s friends were “very, very upset” after the incident.
He said lifesavers would be offered support services.
“We have definitely got one-on-one assistance for all those involved, and the group as a whole will have a workshop debrief in a couple of days,” he said.
Drownings along the Newcastle coast, and particularity within the reach of the five surfs clubs in the Newcastle local government area, are a “rarity”, Mr Scruton said.
“It was an isolated incident but swim between the flags where someone can see you,” he said.
In a statement, the Department of Education said “the school expressed its deepest sympathy to the family and friends of the student. Staff spoke to students today, counselling has been made available for students and staff and will remain available as necessary.
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