The three young men caught in a "strong unforgiving rip" on
Auckland's notorious Piha Beach were wearing jeans and
totally unaware of the danger they were in.
Two of the men, identified by police last night as Bhawandeep
Gill, 20, and Yagnik-Kumar Patel, 24, drowned but a friend
managed to make it to shore.
The friend was in a serious but stable condition in hospital
The spot the three men entered the water about 7.30pm on
Saturday in an area that is deceptively calm, just north of
Off-duty lifeguards a few hundred metres away were alerted
when the hysterical friend stumbled on to the beach. Surf
lifesaver Logan Adams said: "They've just gone into the water
at a notoriously dangerous spot almost at dark ... It happens
too often and it absolutely is a tragedy."
A major rescue operation began involving lifeguards the
Auckland Westpac Rescue Helicopter and the police helicopter.
Despite their efforts the search was called off due to bad
light and was to have resumed yesterday morning. Before that
could happen the bodies of the two men were found at about
6.40am close to each other at almost the spot they went into
Piha senior lifeguard Greg Wilson made the grim discovery. He
told the Herald it was surprise the bodies surfaced so soon.
"I think in all the incidents I've been involved in out here
this is the first time someone's been found the day after.
"Usually with Piha we have between day five and day 10 and
they're usually swept up anywhere from Bethells to Muriwai
... But the surf does funny things."
Mr Wilson said
rescue conditions were not ideal with failing light and the
location was a black spot for their radios.
"And there is a rip almost permanently there - quite a strong
Late yesterday afternoon a 30-year-old woman was flown to
Auckland Hospital by the Westpac helicopter in a serious
condition after getting into trouble at Bethells Beach.
- Andrew Koubaridis of the NZ Herald, additional
reporting Yvonne Tahana