Despite his utter exhaustion, Scott Jessamine plunged back into the swirling white ocean cauldron.
The surf lifesaver and his mate John Heesters had rescued 10 people already that grey November morning but their job was not done yet.
Minutes earlier, Mr Jessamine had fought an atrocious swell to reach an abalone hunter face down in the Yanchep Lagoon chop.
"When I finally got to him, I thought he was dead," Mr Jessamine said yesterday. "He was just floppy and I really struggled to get him on the board and paddle back in against the current.
"I was in trouble because I was exhausted so I signalled for John."
Mr Heester had just rescued another fisherman off the reef 200m away and his legs were screaming in pain from the effort when he saw his partner's wave for help.
With the little energy he could muster, he sprinted up the beach and dived back in. They had barely dragged the man in before there was another cry for help.
"It was one after the other," Mr Jessamine said. "Pure bedlam."
The pair's heroics, which yesterday earned them Royal Humane Society of Australasia bravery medals, featured in a coronial inquest into the 2012 death of Malaysian national Beng Keong He.
In findings last week, Deputy WA Coroner Evelyn Vicker said it seemed appropriate there be powers to nominate persons to provide for "on the spot beach closures" in rough weather.
There have been three abalone fishing deaths recorded in WA in the past two years and there were 50 rescues during the most recent season.
Ms Vicker said further discussion was needed between the Department of Fisheries, Surf Life Saving WA and coastal councils before a recommendation for beach closures during abalone season was made.
Since Mr He's death, Mr Heesters said the City of Wanneroo and SLSWA had provided extra resources at Yanchep for the five one-hour sessions which make up the abalone fishing season.