How 'heroes' saved camper from near-drowning at Teewah
THE man who almost drowned at Teewah Beach on Easter Sunday has come forward to tell his story, hailing his rescuers as "heroes" while warning others to stay alert in the surf.
Gold Coast businessman Craig Burton, 53, was camping with friends and family in the T7 camping area at Teewah when he decided to go for a bodyboard around 1.30pm.
Mr Burton said that while he had one glass of wine with lunch, initial reports claiming he was intoxicated were false.
He had just caught a wave and was paddling back out when he realised he was being sucked out to sea.
"I tried to catch a few waves in, but that wasn't happening," he said.
He managed to make some progress, and found he could stand on the sandy bottom.
"I assumed then that I was okay," he said.
"I ditched the bogey board, which is probably a mistake on my part, and as I did that a wave came along and pushed me, and I got sucked out again.
"My partner was on the beach with my brother, so I put up my hand."
His partner leapt into action, flagging down people driving along the beach.
Two men immediately swam out to help Mr Burton, who had become exhausted.
"I turned on my back to try to relax and preserve the energy I had, and used my legs to propel myself forward.
"A young guy who was camping next to us grabbed a rope and he charged in as well.
"One of the guys got to me, grabbed me and propelled me towards the guy with the rope, which was tied around his waist.
"My partner's brother held the other end of the rope on the shore."
Several people on the beach helped pull the swimmers to safety.
Mr Burton said he never lost consciousness, and while he may have swallowed some water he was breathing normally back on the beach.
Lifeguards arrived around 10 minutes later, and a passing doctor stopped to help and check over Mr Burton.
He was given oxygen then taken to Gympie Hospital as a precaution, where doctors ran tests and discharged him within 20 minutes.
He said the people who came to his rescue are "absolute heroes", and he is working to contact and thank them.
"They put their life on the line," he said.
Mr Burton is a qualified scuba diver and a strong swimmer.
He warned others against complacency in the water, whatever their swimming ability.
"You go in, it's shallow, and then suddenly you get caught out," he said.
He said the experience was embarrassing, especially after lecturing his own children on beach safety.
"I'd been drumming for three days into the kids what not to do, and lo and behold, I got caught up in the thing I didn't want to happen to them," he said.