WAKE-UP CALL: Daniel Paul Kearney returns to the beach where he nearly drowned in a rip. He wants to find the people who helped save his life.
WAKE-UP CALL: Daniel Paul Kearney returns to the beach where he nearly drowned in a rip. He wants to find the people who helped save his life. Iain Curry

Renewed surf safety messages from man saved from sea death

DANIEL Paul Kearney's limbs ached from fighting against the rip, as the shoreline drifted further and further away.

That's the last thing he remembers.

The 24-year-old from Warana was minutes from his home, enjoying his morning swim on Friday, when he quickly got into trouble about 7am.

"I got stuck in a rip," he said.

"It was pretty scary.

"You get dragged out into the ocean and you don't think anyone will see, and I was thinking about the sharks.

"The last thing I remember is looking at the shoreline and getting dragged out, further and further out."

Mr Kearney thought he was going to drown.

"I started to get tired and that's when I was scared," he said.

"It didn't feel right."

Mr Kearney was on his last breath when an unknown surfer plucked him out of the water and paddled him back to the beach.

"I remember waking up on the beach; everyone was around me," he said.

"I didn't know where I was.

"There were all these people and the sirens were getting to me.

"It was pretty scary."

Paramedics attended to Mr Kearney, before taking him to Caloundra Hospital.

"They said I was very lucky," he said.

"I'm really thankful to the people who helped me. I will now swim in between the flags.

"It's definitely a wake-up call."

The incident prompted surf lifesaving officials to remind swimmers to stay between the red and yellow flags.

Last week a New South Wales academic revealed that rips in the ocean killed more people in Australia than cyclones, bushfires, floods and shark attacks combined.

A study by University of New South Wales senior lecturer Rob Brander found that on average 21 people died in rips around Australia each year.


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