'Hero' lifesaver who drowned saving tourist was expecting first baby

A volunteer surf lifesaver who was killed alongside his father while rescuing a tourist was to become a father for the first time in August.

Dairy farmers Ross Powell, 71, and his son Andrew Powell, 32, died trying to rescue a 30-year-old man at Sherbrook River, near Port Campbell in Victoria on Sunday morning at about 10.40am.

A third rescuer and the tourist were winched to safety by an emergency helicopter, but the father and son duo died at the scene.

The small tight-knit community of Port Campbell was in mourning following their death, with Andrew’s partner, Amber Griffiths, sharing her heartbreak to Facebook.

Dairy farmers Andy Powell, 32, and Ross Powell, 72, who were also volunteer lifesavers, died trying to rescue a man at Port Campbell on Sunday. Source: Facebook/ Team Navy ASRL

“Today (Sunday) we lost two of the most beautiful people to ever exist - always putting others first,” she wrote.

“The love of my life, light of my life, father of my baby girl. My heart is broken. I miss you Andrew Powell.”

Andrew was the youngest of five siblings and was awarded Young Farmer of the Year in 2017 - he was proud to have followed in his father’s farming footsteps.

He played an active role in all aspects of the surf club and joined the State Emergency Service aged 16.

A boat deployed to assist the troubled swimmer flipped in the surf and threw the three rescuers into the water. Source: Nine News

In a statement released by the family, Ross was described as “a cherished husband to Val, a dedicated father to Brett, Natalie, Dale, Kerryn and Andy, and dearly loved brother to Marea”.

“He was very much loved and respected by many. Andrew (Andy) was always by his dad’s side and a beloved partner to Amber, son and brother.

“We will miss our beautiful, big-hearted Andy and were so proud of the person he was – gentle, compassionate, loving and selfless – like his father. We are heartbroken.”

Ross was awarded a Certificate of Merit and Royal Humane Society Bravery Award after the rescue of two people near Loch Ard Gorge on Easter Sunday 1980.

The father-son duo drowned after their boat flipped trying to help a tourist who landed in trouble after wading into waters off Victoria’s Great Ocean Road. Source: Nine News

His sister, Marea, described Ross as “the most wonderful brother” and her “rock”.

“My two children loved and idolised their uncle and loved their cousin Andy. Ross and Andy will forever live in our hearts,” she said.

Life Saving Victoria president Paul James wept as the rescuers were "highly experienced and long-serving members" of the club, describing them as heroes.

"We know it is very treacherous down there and not a place to be swimming at all," he told reporters on Sunday.

"These brave people, these heroes, have gone out to try to help."

The incident will be investigated and a report prepared for the coroner.

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