A quick Shelly Beach cool-off almost turned to disaster for a local couple last week

Suzanne and Paul say no words are enough to thank their rescuers.

QUICK thinking and brave actions by a father and daughter saved a local couple from disaster at Shelly Beach last week.

“We are truly overwhelmed by John and Melody’s bravery; we think they deserve a medal,” Suzanne and Paul told NOTA as they described their ordeal and rescue after being caught in a rip.

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It was a hot and steamy Monday morning and Suzanne and Paul were on their regular morning walk when they decided to slip into the water for a quick swim to cool off, as they’d often done before.

“It looked a bit rough, and the tide was high, but we thought it was OK,” says Paul.

“One minute it was calm and I was just floating on the water, then suddenly big waves came up.”

Taken by surprise, the couple were washed into a rip they couldn’t swim against and in minutes were 50 metres from shore.

“I knew we couldn’t hold up against the rip, and I raised my arm in the universal signal for help, hoping someone on the beach would see,” says Suzanne.

“I looked up when I raised my arm and saw a man on his phone.”

The man on the beach was John; he’d called emergency services and was already on his feet along with his daughter Melody, preparing to battle their way slowly through the swamping waves to reach Suzanne.

Melody had just completed a surf lifesaving class, and this would be her first rescue.

With Melody holding Suzanne and John pulling Melody, they managed to get back closer to the beach, where people waded in to help pull them out.

Meanwhile, Paul had managed to grab the steel pole that guides boats to the ramp, but was buffeted against the rocks with every wave.

“I was clinging to that pole for dear life, sliding up and down, and being slammed into rocks,” says Paul.

Emergency services were quickly on the scene following John’s phone call and Paul was taken to Coffs Harbour hospital.

“I told the doctor I didn’t know how I hung onto that pole, and he told me that when fighting for their life, people can do things they normally can’t.”

Two weeks on, Paul is hoping his injured legs will be healed in time for him to lead a walking tour in the Himalayas.

“We’ve certainly learned a few lessons about the local beaches – you can’t take them for granted, conditions can change quickly and you need to be alert to them,” says Paul.

And both Suzanne and Paul are still marvelling at their miraculous escape, and at the courage shown by Melody and John – local heroes who do indeed deserve a medal.


Shelly Beach at Nambucca Heads. Photo: Visit NSW.

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