A fishing trip ended in tragedy when a Canberra man died after being swept off rocks at Tathra.
The incident occurred around 1.10pm on Saturday, when the 54-year-old and four other men were dragged into the water by dangerous seas while rock fishing near Kianinny Bay
Chief Inspector Tony Moodie of Bega Police said the men came from the ACT as a group.
Two of the town’s locals, Shane Babington and Bill Aliendi, were instrumental in the ocean rescue.
Commercial fisherman Mr Babington heard cries for help from his house and ran down to the rocks to get a look.
He saw four people in the water and while one made it back up the rocks on his own, there were still three left in the water with one life jacket between them.
He then dashed up back up to the house to ring 000 before calling out to his neighbour Mr Aliendi.
The pair hitched up the boat and made a mad dash to the Kianinny boat ramp, where they were able to pick up two of the men from the water.
“It took us only a couple of minutes to get in the water and by the time we got there we could see two people in the water so we picked them up,” he said.
“They told me there was another person in the water.”
The Far South Coast Local Area Command, Marine Area Command, Tathra Surf Life Saving Club and the Westpac Rescue Helicopter all searched for the remaining man, but later found the 54-year-old unconscious.
The lifesavers and paramedics provided CPR to the man, but he could not be revived.
CPR was also performed on a second man, who lifesavers said responded well to this treatment.
A dangerous surf warning for deceptively powerful surf was in place for Saturday.
Neither the deceased man nor the other man requiring CPR were wearing a lifejacket at the time they were washed into the water, but one man pulled from the water uninjured did have one on.
Three of the men were taken to the South East Regional Hospital, but all were discharged on the day with minor injuries. One man required stitches.
Mr Babington said he could not have made the rescue without his neighbour’s help.
“I wouldn't have been able to do what I did without Bill,” he said.