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'He saved my son': Mother praises hero dad who drowned saving her children

The mother of four children, who nearly drowned at a Wollongong beach, has broken down recalling the moment a young father died trying to save them.

Shaun Oliver rushed into the surf in pursuit of two of four children who got into trouble during a Sunday afternoon swim at Wollongong City Beach.

A surfer reached the pair and got the the older boy closer to shore while an off-duty paramedic helped pull the 10-year-old boy to shore.

Mr Oliver, who helped a 12-year-old make his way to safety, was swept out to sea before being pulled from the water by police and given CPR but later died in hospital.

All other children were rescued as an off-duty paramedic and surfer also rushed in to help.

A grateful mother Islam Hammad broke down as she recalled to 7 News the moment Mr Oliver disappeared underneath the waves.

“They had been very close to us, not far and suddenly the waves became very crazy and they started to get to the back of the beach," she said, choking back tears.

“This man went in and saved one of the children... then the man suddenly disappeared.”

Islam Hammad said Shaun Oliver was a hero for saving her children. Source: 7 News

"I feel trouble for myself that I couldn't save him... he didn't think about anything, he just went straight in the water.

"He is a hero. I'm sure he is very happy in the place that he is now."

Mr Oliver leaves behind his "childhood sweetheart" and three young children.

A man has died trying to save children from drowning at a NSW beach. Photo: 7 News

Detective Inspector Brad Ainsworth said a man has died because a simple message was not followed.

“No flags, no swim. It’s a simple message, but it just doesn’t get through," he said.

“A (man) has died as a result of his heroic efforts to rescue four children from the surf,”

“It really puts individuals who come to the aid of people in danger.

The 32-year-old was swept out to sea while trying to save two children from drowning. Photo: 7 News

In an emotional GoFundMe post, Mr Oliver's brother, Nathaneal, said he made the ultimate sacrfifice to protect those who could not do so for themselves.

“Shaun has sacrificed his future happiness and shared life with wife Carla and three beautiful children to do what none of us hope to do in this lifetime.. be tested,” Nathanael wrote.

“Sadly not long before their 10-year anniversary, Shaun was faced with an ultimatum. He chose to protect those who could not protect themselves.

“And he, and his family, have paid a heavy price.”