The South West's surfing fraternity says its time safety measures were stepped up at Redgate Beach in light of a tragic double drowning last weekend.
Kristin Innes told the Times he was on the scene when 29-year-old American doctor Ian Bradley Vincent’s body washed up on the shore after the visitor was caught in a treacherous rip on Saturday.
“He just went down and disappeared. The rip did a circle and the water went horizontal to the beach,” Mr Innes said.
“He popped up in the shallow section and there were three Irish guys playing soccer who pulled him ashore.
“One of them had their first-aid certificate and tried to resuscitate him while another called for help before the helicopter and emergency services came down.”
Twenty-two-year-old Kane Elwin Nelson’s body is yet to be located after he was taken by the rip during the same incident on Saturday.
It was believed he went back into the water to help Dr Vincent.
Mr Innes said Redgate’s popularity had grown in recent years and he believed permanent lifeguards were needed to improve safety at the break.
“The amount of people and visitors that go to Redgate now is more than Rivermouth,” he said.
“It would be good to have surf lifesavers out there.”
Surf Academy operator Josh Palmateer echoed Mr Innes’ call for lifeguards and pitched the idea of a Shire beach inspector who could flag dangerous swells to surfers before they hit the water.
He said the inspector could visit popular breaks in the morning and direct beach users away from dangerous swells with appropriate signage.
Margaret River Boardriders president Tom Innes said the dangers of rips and big swells at Redgate often flew under the radar because the signage wasn’t up to scratch.
He said the one small sign located on the track to the water was often ignored by beach users.
“The signs they have at Smiths Beach are big, red and yellow and point out the dangers of rips. You can’t miss them,” the boardriders president said.
Department of Environment and Conservation ranger Peter Simmonds said the area already had “a number of coastal warning signs in the area with information about rips and currents,” but he was investigating the removal of two signs found vandalised in nearby bushland the day of the drowning.
New Shire beach signage had not been installed at Redgate because it was under DEC control.
Tom Innes also said emergency buoys used in Esperance and Contos should be available to beach users at Redgate: “If they had safety buoys in that location this tragedy could have been avoided.”
Gary Evershed said the Shire of Augusta-Margaret River had little control over Redgate Beach because it was governed by the Department of Environment and Conservation.
“The Shire will continue efforts with the Augusta-Margaret River Tourism Association to promote the Rivermouth Beach as a patrolled swimming area during peak season,” the chief executive said.
It was impossible for the Shire to completely monitor or signpost the district’s vast coastline and people needed to ensure their own safety by swimming or surfing within their limits, he said.