Ripples of shock swept through tranquil Ngunguru after a man
died and a 4-year old child was rushed to hospital after
getting into difficulty in the estuary.
Local resident, and triathlete, Jane Young was one of three
people who ran into the water to try to save the pair after
an attempt to cross the channel to get to a pipi bed went
The man, in his late 30s, was face down in the water when Ms
Young and another rescuer reached him during the tragedy at
about 5.30pm on Saturday.
The man is thought to have suffered cardiac arrest.
After Ms Young helped drag him out of the water she and
another person performed CPR for 20 minutes before emergency
The paramedics continued to try to resuscitate him for a
further 20 minutes but he could not be revived.
The boy and his mother were flown by Northland Emergency
Services Trust helicopter to Whangarei Hospital where the
child spent the night in a stable condition.
Ms Young had been sitting at her computer at home across the
road from the beach when she became aware of raised, alarmed
voices and realised something was wrong.
She rushed out and saw people running down to the water.
"I just bolted across the beach to where two other men were
already running into the water," Ms Young said.
A strong swimmer, she reached the man first and got him in a
She and one of the other helpers dragged him ashore while
others brought in the distressed child.
Ms Young said the channels at Ngunguru ran quite fast in the
out-going tide but locals were usually aware of the
conditions and she had never considered it a dangerous beach.
"It just blew me away that it could happen in this quiet
little place," she said.
Whangarei teenager Brad Olsen was visiting his grandparents
further along the beach when the drama began to unfold.
Mr Olsen said he did not see the incident in the water but
described the surreal atmosphere as medics tried for a long
time to revive the man.
It was low tide and the desperate lifesaving attempt was
taking place where the man had been dragged only metres from
During that time the main road through the Ngunguru
settlement was closed so the NEST helicopter could land
there, Mr Olsen said.
Onlookers saw the boy and his mother loaded into the
Mr Olsen said an air of shock hung over the scene.
He said it all seemed so strange.
"We've had this great summer and there were still people out
there enjoying a summer evening, and this tragedy happens,"
Mr Olsen said.
"There was very definitely a sense of shock over the place,"
- By Lindy Laird of the Northern Advocate