Surf Lifeguard rewarded for rescuing kitesurfer

Friday, 15 May 2020

Muriwai Volunteer Lifeguard Service member Shea O'Neill went to the aid of a badly injured kitesurfer. 

A volunteer Surf Lifeguard who rescued an injured kitesurfer at Muriwai Beach is being recognised for his efforts.

He has claimed third place in BP Rescue of the Month for March. Surf Life Saving New Zealand invites clubs to submit their rescues to be judged for the title of BP Rescue of the Month, which acknowledges operational excellence by Surf Lifeguards around the country.

Shea O'Neill, a member of the Muriwai Volunteer Lifeguard Service, was at the beach on March 22 following the end of a patrol session when a member of the public alerted him to a kitesurfer in trouble.

Club president Jo Cooper says Shea did an “exceptional job completing this rescue”.

Realising he was in trouble, the kitesurfer had unclipped himself from his kite and board. These had washed up on the beach and a group of people had gathered around them. A member of the public had called 111 to give details to the Police.

A woman further down the beach spotted the kitesurfer about 300 metres north of the club’s tower, halfway between the first and second bar, about 200 metres out.

Jo says the surf was about 3 feet to 4 feet on the inside bar and maybe a bit bigger out the back.

Shea swam out with a rescue tube and found the man. He was wearing a life vest and a helmet, but had a badly cut face.

“He was in trouble and required assistance. Shea swam him back across the bar.”

When they got to about 50 metres from shore another kiteboarder came to assist. Shea held that kiteboarder’s harness with one arm and the tube with the other and the kite pulled them into the shallows.

The Emergency Call Out Squad and the last of the patrolling guards arrived and took over the first aid response.

Jo says the club’s First Aid Officer David Peacock was among those who had been on patrol and was still onsite. Once the man was back to shore, he managed his wellbeing.

The man was then driven to hospital by patrol member and Emergency Call Out Squad member Nigel (Shorebreak) Sorenson.

“Shea made the difference – 100 per cent no doubt about that. I’m incredibly impressed with the whole team actually!”

Shea will be recognised with $200 worth of BP gift vouchers for his club. 

“BP has been in partnership with Surf Life Saving New Zealand for 52 years and we are incredibly proud to support their heroic efforts in keeping New Zealanders safe,” BP NZ Managing Director Debi Boffa says.

“This rescue is yet another example of the huge difference Surf Lifeguards make on beaches all over the country.”

Mount Maunganui Lifeguard Service and the SLSNZ TSB Nationals Event Management and First Aid Team will receive $500 and $300 BP gift cards respectively as BP Rescue of the Month first and second place getters.


For more information, please contact:

Melanie Louden
Media and Communications Manager
Surf Life Saving New Zealand
021 757 433