Badly injured surfer saved on remote Auckland beach after writing 'HELP' in the sand

Thursday, 18 February 2021

**Article originally published on**

Feb 17, 2021

An injured surfer has been rescued from a remote West Auckland beach after writing the word ‘HELP’ in the sand.

The man had been surfing alone at Karekare beach when he lost his board in the large surf and was swept onto rocks, a Surf Life Saving Northern region spokeswoman said.

He was seriously injured and unable to walk out via any of the tracks.

A couple of hours later a person on a walking track overlooking Mercer Bay saw the man writing the message in the sand before collapsing.

The person called the United North Piha Surf Club, and a Surf Life Saving jet ski was sent from Piha with two lifeguards and first aid equipment to conduct a search for the man.

The lifeguards managed to find the surfer who told them he had written the message in desperation hoping someone would see it.

Emergency first aid was performed on the man, and he was taken to hospital.

Sir Bob Harvey has never accepted that people have gone missing without a trace off the cliffs at Mercer Bay Loop.

The spokeswoman said that afternoon the man's wife reported him missing to police after growing concerned when she didn’t hear from him.

Surf Life Saving’s Rescue Communications Centre SurfCom was able to confirm the man the lifeguards were treating was the missing person and the news was given to his family.

Search and Rescue supervisor John-Michael Swannix said the man had been “very lucky”.

“The message in the sand is not visible from the walking tracks at the northern end of Mercer Bay, so it was very lucky the informant and her friend were at the southern end and able to see it.”

As Auckland was in alert level 3, not as many people were around the area Swannix said.

One thing to remember as Auckland went back into level 2 Swannix said was people should always go surfing or swimming with someone else.

“It just means there is someone there to look out for you or to get help if something does go wrong.”

Surf Life Saving had 17 emergency callout squads from Ahipara down to Raglan who were available 24/7 to respond to incidents like this, Swannix said.

“If someone is in trouble, people just need to call 111 and ask police for the surf lifeguards.”

Weekday patrols at Ōrewa, Bethells, North Piha and Raglan wrap up at the end of this week, with daily patrols at Muriwai and Piha continuing until the first week of March.