A spate of water rescues at northern beaches has prompted Northland District Police to urge all beachgoers to take extra precautions when hitting the water this summer.
Tragedy struck on Christmas Day when 25 year old international student Heng Li drowned in the surf at Uretiti Beach while crabbing. A 75 year old man, also crabbing at Uretiti, was rescued by members of the public late on Saturday afternoon.
A 16 year old boy is still missing in the water at 90 Mile Beach following an extensive search from around 5pm on Saturday. The search has resumed this morning.
Senior Sergeant Daniel Cleaver of Whangarei Police says that beachgoers must be aware of the conditions of the ocean before they take the plunge.
“There are a number of popular beaches in our District that are not suitable for people who are not strong swimmers or aren’t able to swim,” he says. “We advise all beachgoers to carefully consider the conditions of the surf before entering the water and not to go in if you don’t feel confident.
“Weather events have changed the condition of Uretiti beach, meaning that while the surf may not look too big, there is a strong tidal undertow which can take some people by surprise if they are not confident swimmers.
“Crabbing is particularly popular at Uretiti beach and anyone who is taking part in this practice must be aware of the risks they face by wading into the surf, sometimes fully clothed and out of their depth. Crabbers may find that their crab pots are drawn deeper into the surf if the tide has come in while they wait.
“This beach is not always patrolled by Surf Lifesavers and the nearest rescue boat is stationed at Ruakaka. If you get into trouble in the surf, a rescue boat may not be able to reach you immediately.”
The rescue of three fishermen off the coast of Karikari Peninsula on Saturday morning (none of whom were wearing lifejackets) is also a timely reminder to all boaties to ensure their boats are equipped with lifejackets for every person on board and to take more than one form of communication with them on every boat trip.
“Summer is a time to make great use of the beaches that we are lucky to have in this part of the country,” says Senior Sergeant Cleaver. “But the ocean can be a dangerous place and it is not worth risking your life for some time in the water. If you’re not fully prepared, keep safe on the sand instead.”
Issued by Kimberley Mathews/Communications Manager
021 192 0717