Allison is a digital reporter for the Bay of Plenty Times

Surfers save drowning couple at Mount

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Geoff and Katie Cox with son James, 2. Photo / Katie Cox
Geoff and Katie Cox with son James, 2. Photo / Katie Cox

Everybody needs to look after each other in the water was the message from a Bay surfer who helped rescue two swimmers who got into trouble at Tay St beach, yesterday.

Surfer and photographer Katie Cox was catching waves with her husband around 2pm when she heard the cries for help coming from 40m away.

"When we heard that cry that you only hear when people are really desperate both of us just paddled in that direction," she said.

A couple was swimming about 50 metres from shore, just far enough out that the water was over their heads, when they got caught in a rip and called for help.

By the time Mrs Cox and her husband, Geoff, paddled over to the couple they had both gone under.

Read more: The Bay's big wave surfers

"The guy could no longer use his arms and by the time I got to the woman she had been under for two waves and just her hand was sticking out of the water."

Mrs Cox got the woman safely to shore, where she was shaky and teary and worried about her husband, who was still in the water.

Mr Cox brought the man into shore.

It was only their fourth day in the country, and they were visiting their son from England.

"Thankfully, and good on them, the only reason they were saved was because they called for help.

"I'm so grateful they did call for help, a lot of people who are drowning don't, whether they are embarrassed or that exhausted that they can't make a call out for help."

She and her husband were surfing far enough away that they would not have seen them if they had not cried out.

Mrs Cox said the rip the couple had gotten caught in was "phenomenal".

"It was going like 7 knots. At one point my husband and I were in it trying to get to the surf bank and we were paddling as hard as we could and couldn't get past it."

She said any surfer or person comfortable in the water had an obligation to look after those not as comfortable.

"I'm comfortable in the water, I surf all the time and it's no skin off my back to look out for someone who isn't.

Read more: Flag replaced with undies and shoes

"Accidents happen to anyone so we all have to look after each other if we're out there."

The incident also highlighted the need for a permanent lifeguard patrol on Tay St beach.

"I really think that the Mount would benefit from a permanent lifeguard. It's out of peak season for the lifeguards but the beach is still packed.

"In order for that to happen there needs to be funding. There needs to be more funding for lifeguards later in the season for Tay St," she said.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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