Warning signs at a notorious south-west beach had been removed by vandals the night before two men drowned while bodyboarding in 2012, an inquest has been told.
Dr Ian Vincent drowned and Kane Nelson disappeared without trace after being caught in a rip while in the water at Redgate beach, south of Margaret River, in December 2012.
Dr Vincent, who was visiting WA from America, drowned after being smashed by four metre waves, coroner Sarah Linton was told.
Mr Nelson disappeared under the waves as he attempted to rescue Dr Vincent, and has never been found, despite a four-day air and sea search.
Dr Vincent's uncle David Bradley, who was in the water bodyboarding with the pair, gave an emotional account of how the tragedy unfolded - and how the group were unaware of the potential dangers.
Mr Bradley, whose daughter Heather was in a relationship with Mr Nelson at the time, said the benign conditions had turned deadly within minutes.
Sergeant Paul Daly said signs which warned of rips in the water had been removed from the entrance to beach the night before, with some of them being burned.
Sgt Daly said local youths had been identified as the culprits, and two of them had been dealt with by the juvenile justice system
On the day locals described as treacherous. The trio were not wearing flippers or wetsuits, and only one of the boats had a tether, the inquest was told.
Redgate beach is popular with families, surfers and fishermen but is notorious for its rips.