2021 COASTAL BRAVERY AWARDS

On 7th May 2021, Surf Life Saving WA honoured 41 individuals at the 2021 Coastal Bravery Awards ceremony, hosted by Monika Kos at Cara Auditorium, Woodside Energy.

Mr Stuart Aubrey MLA, Member for Scarborough, presented each of the recipients with their medallion and framed certificate.

Nearly 150 guests gathered for the ceremony, which marks the fourth event to take place - with a break in 2020 due to COVID restrictions. 

 
Gold Medallion for Exceptional Bravery

The Gold Medallion for Exceptional Bravery is the highest honour, awarded to any person who performs a conspicuous and selfless act of exceptional bravery in circumstances of extreme peril.

The below gentlemen have received this award in addition to Justin Wilson, who we recognised in an upcoming act of bravery.

Alex Oliver, Liam Ryan and Jess Woolhouse

31st July 2020

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It was around two o’clock in the afternoon when a group of surfers were enjoying an afternoon surf at Bunker Bay, when all of a sudden Phil Mummert was thrown from his board and bitten on the leg by what was determined to have been a great white of approximately 5 metres.

 

Attempting to fight the shark off with his board, the splashing attracted the attention of nearby surfers Alex, Liam and Jess, all of whom without hesitation, paddled to Phil’s aid, despite the shark still circling.

 

The group were able to help Phil onto Alex’s board, attempting to hold the wound on his leg, while paddling him some seventy metres back to shore.

 

All individuals involved in the rescue that day displayed exceptional bravery when, without hesitation, they went directly to Phil’s aid, despite the presence of the shark in the water.

 

In nominating Alex, Liam and Jess for this award, Phil said “All three guys were strangers to me prior to the incident. They displayed incredible courage and bravery, and risked their own lives to save a total stranger being attacked by a great white shark”.

Silver Medallion for Bravery
 

Lifesavers Award

The Silver Medallion for Bravery – Lifesavers Award, is awarded to any member of Surf Life Saving Western Australia who performs a conspicuous and selfless act of bravery on or off the West Australian coast, recognising the application of important lifesaving skills learnt through their participation in surf life saving.

Patrick Williams

21st August 2019

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Surfing in large swell at Trigg beach, seventeen-year-old Patrick was alerted to a fellow surfer clinging to a board in the break zone and calling out for help. Paddling over, Patrick found the man well out of his depth and in considerable pain with a broken wrist and unable to move his legs.

 

With quick thinking, Patrick was able to safely manoeuvre the injured man, who had sustained spinal injuries, onto one of the boards to make the arduous journey back to the shore, holding the man down securely as they were repeatedly knocked about by the large waves.

 

Calling upon his lifesaving skills and training, learned as a member of City of Perth Surf life Saving Club, Patrick continued to administer care once the pair made it to shore, assisting surf rescue and paramedics as they arrived on scene.

 

With the man’s spinal injuries ultimately rendering him a paraplegic, he attributes his survival to Patrick’s brave rescue and quick thinking.

Jake Fisher

2nd May 2020

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Visiting Gas Bay, Gnarabup with a group of friends, seventeen-year-old Jake was alerted by a friends to a member of their group struggling in the rough water.

 

With an offshore storm generating large swell and strong currents, the young girl, who was not a confident swimmer, had found herself in trouble and was being pulled out to sea in a rip.

 

Without hesitation, Jake entered the rough water, swimming out to the panicking individual who was struggling to breathe as she was continuously being dumped by waves.

 

Supporting her, Jake was able to calm her down and, negotiating the waves and rip, tow her safely back to shore.

 

With few others on the beach that day, witnesses say that Jake, who is a member of the Margaret River Surf Life Saving Club, showed composure and courage, and were it not for his quick actions, the outcome could have been very different.

Jochen Beranek

5th January 2021

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Surfing at Ellensbrook near Margaret River, Jochen went to the aid of a fellow surfer who had sustained significant injuries after hitting a submerged rock.

 

In extreme pain and unable to swim, Jochen supported the man in the rough water as he commenced towing him towards the shore.

 

With the large swell and waves making passage difficult, Jochen used his own body as a buffer between the reef and injured man, manoeuvring him across the rocks and rock pools until they reached sand and were sufficiently clear of the water.

 

Once onshore, Jochen contacted emergency services and continued to care for the man who was in extreme while they awaited further help.

 

Were it not for Jochen’s actions that day in going to the aid of his fellow surfer, who had sustained significant spinal injuries in the large surf, the outcome may have been very different.   

Jochen is a member of Alkimos Surf Life Life Saving Club.

Emergency Services Award

 

The Silver Medallion for Bravery – Emergency Services Award, is awarded to any member of a recognised Emergency Response Unit who, in the fulfilment of their duties, performs a conspicuous and selfless act of bravery on the West Australian coast.

As part of the following two awards, we also recognise one of our Gold Medallion for Exceptional Bravery recipients and one of our Silver Medallion for Bravery – Citizens Award recipients, whose acts of bravery were performed alongside the police officers involved.

Senior Constable Michael Kelly; Senior Constable Jennifer Boyle,

Detective Senior Constable Aaron Ogg, and Senior Constable Shane Byers

9th March 2015

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Called to assist St John Ambulance Officers with a man who had been seriously injured in a fall from a popular tourist lookout at Cemetery Beach in Port Hedland, Senior Constable’s Michael Kelly, Jenni Boyle, Shane Byers and Detective Senior Constable Ogg went to the aid of the man who was in the water, incapacitated and in imminent danger with the quickly rising tide.

 

Scaling the rocks to reach the man, Detective Senior Constable Ogg and Senior Constable Boyle administered CPR to the man, who stopped breathing on multiple occasions. Soon they were joined by Senior Constable’s Kelly and Byers, who assisted with stabilising the man’s neck and spine.

 

With the equipment required to hoist the man to safely, unavailable, the Officers were forced to load him onto a stretcher and walk him out, across more than 250m of submerged, rocky shore.

 

With conditions worsening, and waves crashing over the officers, at times knocking them off their feet and into the surf, they were able to carry the man to shore where further medical assistance was administered.

 

Were it not for the actions of the Officers, the victim, who had received life threatening injuries including a broken back, would likely not have survived.

Senior Constable Daniel O’Keeffe, Detective First Class Constable Haydn Counsel, Detective Senior Constable Christopher Fuller, Senior Constable Jason Jones, Senior Constable Wade Barndon,
Senior Constable Lorne Buchan, Detective Senior Constable Shaun Francis, Senior Constable Richard Haxholdt

Jessica Varney - Silver Medallion for Bravery - Citizens Award

Justin Wilson - Gold Medallion for Exceptional Bravery

4th May 2016

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When, during a school surfing excursion on the Geraldton foreshore, a young student become trapped by his arm between boulders in the surf, it was thanks to the combined efforts of a group of individuals, including teachers and staff from his school and a number of on-duty police officers, that the individual survived the ordeal with little more than cuts and abrasions and hypothermia.

 

Those involved in the rescue, entered the rough waters to support the individual, holding his head up as he was repeatedly submerged under water for up to 15 seconds at a time, while others continually dived below the water in their attempts to free his arm, all while they themselves were repeatedly battered against the surrounding rocks.

 

For up to 45 minutes the group worked together before firefighters who had arrived on scene were eventually able to prise his arm free and help him to safety. 

 

All those involved that day put themselves in danger and are to be commended for their actions which saved his life.

Senior Constable Chris Holley

9th February 2018

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Advised of a vehicle crash which saw a car traverse down an embankment and plunge into the estuary, on-duty police officer Senior Constable Holley showed little regard for his own safety as he immediately entered the water to go to the aid of the female occupant who was trapped inside the sinking vehicle.

 

Upon reaching the now submerged vehicle, Senior Constable Holley was able to smash the rear window with his baton, before assisting the female occupant out of the vehicle and to safety.

 

Given the difficult and dangerous circumstances, were it not for his quick thinking and actions, which were deemed above and beyond his duties, Senior Constable Holley secured the safety of the driver in what could have been otherwise tragic circumstances.

Senior Constable Kenn Flatt

21st September 2018

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Encountering a distressed female who had entered the water intent on self-harm, Senior Constable Flatt gave little thought to his own safety as he followed her into the rough waters at North Beach in his attempts to bring her back to safety.

 

Unaware as to how long water police reinforcements would take to arrive, Senior Constable Flatt pursued and struggled with the individual in the water before they were located, nearly 1km offshore in low light, by water police.

 

In being nominated for this award by his peers, it was stated that he went above and beyond his duties in going to the aid of the highly distressed individual, showing determination, compassion and a level of fitness that many other would not have, and which resulted in saving the individuals life.

Citizens Award

 
 

The Silver Medallion for Bravery – Citizens Award, is awarded to any person who performs a conspicuous and selfless act of bravery on the West Australian coast.

As part of one of the following acts, we will also recognise a Silver Medallion for Bravery – Lifesavers Award recipient, whose act of bravery was performed alongside the other citizens involved.

Sean Roman, Simon Harrison, and Aaron Freedman.

31st December 2017

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Off-duty Police Officers First Class Constable Sean Roman, Detective Sergeant Simon Harrison and friend Aaron Freedman, headed out off the coast of Dampier for a day on the boat with Constable Roman’s father-in-law John Bazzoni.

 

Shortly after entering the water, Mr Bazzoni appeared to get into trouble, signalling to the other men on the boat. Seeing his distress, First Class Constable Roman entered the water and, struggling himself in the growing swell, made it to Mr Bozzani. Fighting to keep them both afloat, Constable Roman attempted to tow him back to the boat, which was now some 30 metres away.

 

Detective Sergeant Harrison entered the water to go to their aid, taking the struggling Mr Bozzani from First Class Constable Roman. Meanwhile Aaron grabbed a lifejacket and also entered the water and, with the assistance of Detective Sergeant Harrison, got the life jacket under Mr Bozzani, who by this stage was unconscious.

 

A group on a nearby boat came to their aid, assisting the exhausted group out of the water and onto their boat where they commenced CPR on Mr Bozzani.

 

While tragically, Mr Bozzani was not able to be revived, First Class Constable Roman, Detective Sergeant Harrison, and Aaron showed courage and gave little thought to their own safety as they went to his aid in the rough waters.

Jac Coltman, Dan Moore, Ken Goatley, and Gavin Fasey

Bonnie Varga - Silver Medallion for Bravery - Lifesavers Award

14th March 2020

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Visiting Broome’s Gantheaume Point one afternoon, our group of recipients observed a young woman getting into trouble while swimming in the rock pools with friends.

 

Renown for the strong, fast moving currents which move across the rocks and out to sea, the young woman started to get tossed around by the fast-moving water and was unable to get out.

 

Despite bystanders yelling advice to swim away from the rocks, the waves were too strong and kept rolling over her, forcing her back into the rocks, at one point trapping her under a rock ledge.

 

Seeing the danger, and with little consideration for his own safety, 16-year-old Jac dived into the water and swam to her aid, dragging the now unconscious women to a rock ledge where, on the slippery surface, the group were able to remove her from the water and commence CPR. 

 

In nominating the group for this awards, local police said they displayed exceptional teamwork and composure, especially for their young age, with 4 of the group being year 11 students.

 

Tragically, despite the heroic actions of the group that day, the individual could not be saved.

 

Bonnie, as a member of the Broome Surf life Saving Club, will be receive the Silver Medallion for Bravery – Lifesavers Award.

Jeff Fitzpatrick

9th June 2020

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Heading to the secluded Muttonbird Beach in Albany, to go fishing, Albany teenager Jeff came across an older woman, who had grown increasingly worried as her husband had left their campsite some hours earlier and had not returned. Setting off across the rocks to look for the man, Jeff heard a faint cry for help.

 

Slipping on the wet rocks, the man had fallen down the rock face and become lodged by his shoulders and one leg in a crevice. Unable to free himself nor climb back up, he had been hanging from the rocks for more than four hours.

 

Upon locating the man, Jeff made his way down the steep and slippery rocks, which the waves continued to crash across, and after nearly 15 minutes of struggling, was able to pull the man free and to safety.

 

In describing his rescuer, he said Jeff showed great courage and made a conscious decision to put himself in harm’s way to come to his aid.

Ewan Cameron

30th July 2020

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Walking with his family along Cottesloe Beach on a winter’s evening, Ewan could see a group of young people wading in the shallows some distance ahead. Nearing dusk, the light was dimming, and the sea was choppy with a large swell. Following a short passage of time, two members of the group came running towards Ewan calling for help.

 

One of the girls in their group appeared to be in distress, clearly struggling against the strong current as she was being carried out into deeper water. 

Without hesitation, Ewan stripped of his clothes and entered the cold water, swimming out to the young girl, who was fully clothed and clearly unable to swim.

 

Calming her down, Ewan explained how he was going to tow her back towards shore. Nearing shore, two surfers who had observed Ewan’s actions, came to assist, the three of them loading the girl onto one of the surfer’s boards so they could carry her into shore.

 

With few other people on the beach that evening, and none of the group of young people able to swim, had it not been for Ewan’s quick thinking and courage, running to her aid at a beach he was not familiar with, the outcome could have been much worse.

Barry Smith

3rd September 2020

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Taking advantage of the large winter swell that morning, brothers Andy and Barry were surfing at Secret Harbour beach when, misjudging a wave, Andy was launched headfirst into a shallow sandbar, the impact paralysing him from the neck down.

 

Being tossed by the waves and unable to swim, Andy was fortunate to be rolled face up, giving him the opportunity to call for help. Coming to his aid, Barry was fighting the strong current and crashing waves in his attempts to keep Andy afloat, eventually propping his head against one of the boards to keep it above the water, as he attempted to swim the pair some 100 metres to shore.

 

After a passage of time, two paddle boarders came to their aid, assisting in dragging Andy up on to the shore and to safety.

 

While Andy’s paralysis was temporary, this was largely thanks to his brother’s application of first aid skills, learned as a serving police officer, in ensuring his spine and neck were supported throughout the rescue so that no further damage was sustained.

 

While Andy credits his brother with saving his life, through is persistence and courage to never give up during the difficult rescue, he also expressed his gratitude to the two strangers who lent a hand that day in bringing him to safety. 

Lachlan Rutherford & Rory Elliot

17th October 2020

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Witnessing a fellow paraglider crash landing into the water near Shelly Beach lookout, in Albany, Lachlan took to the air to check on the pilot, who could still be seen in the water below. Landing his glider on the beach, Lachlan and fellow paraglider Rory Elliot made the decision to swim out some 600 metres into open water to check on the pilot. Rory then climbed onto nearby rocks to guide Lachlan to the location of the pilot.

Upon reaching the pilot who was face down in the water, and risking entanglement in the paraglider’s lines, Lachlan was able to roll the pilot over to ascertain that he was deceased.

The pair then opted to stay with the pilot, treading water for nearly hour until help arrived, to ensure the pilot’s body could be recovered.

Placing themselves in harm’s way to go to the aid of the pilot, both Lachlan and Rory demonstrated both courage and compassion in their actions that day.  

The Bronze Medallion for Courage – Youth Award is awarded to any person under the age of 16 who performs a lifesaving act demonstrating courage on the West Australian coast or, in the case of a member of Surf Life Saving WA, where they may have used the skills learned through their participation in surf life saving, to perform an act demonstrating courage away from the coast.

Kirby Jackson 

20th May 2019

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Surfing south of the City Beach groyne in stormy conditions and large swell, Kirby observed two fully clothed tourists wading in the rough waters, before seeing them swept off their feet and pulled out to sea in the strong current.

 

While one of the individuals, an older man, was able to cling to exposed rocks of the groyne, the young lady was being swept out to sea. Realising the individuals were in danger, Kirby, along with another surfer went to their aid, Kirby assisting the male off the rocks and onto his board, while the other surfer went to help the young lady.

 

Paddling the man in towards the beach, Kirby noted the other surfer dropping the young lady off closer to the shore. However, the water was still too deep, and unable to stand, she was swiftly being swept back out to sea.

 

Despite still having the man on his board, Kirby was able to paddle to the aid of the girl, dragging her onto the board before paddling them both back to safely.

 

At just 15 years of age and a youth member of the City of Perth Surf Life Saving Club, Kirby was able to draw on his skills and knowledge learned through surf life saving, enabling him to go to the aid of the two individuals, which may otherwise have ended in tragedy.

Mia Bennett and Cole Johns

14th March 2020

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Paddling on their boards at Secret Harbour when they were alerted to screams for help further out to sea, Mia and Cole noticed a surfer sitting on his board with what appeared to be another adult and two children clinging to the board, all struggling to hold on as the board dipped under the water in the large swell.

 

Despite the strong current and large waves, the pair paddled out to lend assistance to the group. Mia was able to instruct and assist one of the children onto her board, while Cole helped the adult male onto his and, along with the surfer who took charge of the second child, they were able to bring the family safely to the shore.

 

Just thirteen years old at the time, both Mia and Cole credit their years of Nipper and surf sports competition training for their lifesaving skills and level headedness, which enabled them to go to the aid of the struggling family in the difficult conditions.

Jack Cocking

17th February 2020

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Surfing with friends at the popular yet dangerous rock groyne on the Geraldton foreshore, 15-year-old Jack Cocking was in the water when he observed his friend fall from his board into the rocks and not re-surface.

 

Spotted by another friend on the shore, who frantically waved Jack to the area where he had re-appeared, Jack paddled through the rough waters to his friend’s aid. Detaching his leg rope as the waves crashed over them, Jack was able to grab his friend, who was bleeding profusely from cuts to his head, back and chest, and tow him back towards the beach.

 

Suspecting his friend of having a spinal injury due to loss of feeling in his legs, Jack supported his head and cared for him until further assistance, including emergency services, arrived. 

At just 15 years of age, and a youth member of the Geraldton Surf Life Saving Club, Jack demonstrated composure and courage in going to the aid of his friend in the rough conditions, safely bringing him back to shore and using his first aid skills learned through surf life saving, to administer care until further help arrived.

Josh Price

20th June 2020

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On a fishing trip with his family and a younger friend, Josh showed no hesitation in going to the aid of his friend who had slipped and fallen into the cold waters of the canal fully clothed.

 

Despite being a confident swimmer, the young boy, weighed down by clothes, cold and tiring in the strong current, was being pulled further away from land. Josh, witnessing the event from afar, came running to help, stripping off his clothes and jumping into the water.

 

Remaining calm, Josh was able to instruct his friend as he towed them nearly 100 metres against the current to the nearest exit point and to safety.

 

At just twelve-years-old, Josh was able to demonstrate great courage, apply the lifesaving skills he learnt as a Woodside Nipper at Port Bouvard Surf life Saving Club, to rescue his friend.

Nick Gleeson

11th December 2020

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On the way to attending his final Bronze Medallion assessment at Coogee Beach Surf Life Saving Club where he is a member, 15-year-old Nick and his mother came across a recently occurred accident between a vehicle and trail biker rider, who had not been wearing a helmet.

 

Knowing that his Bronze Medallion training had equipped him to respond in these situations, Nick didn’t hesitate as he volunteered to assist. Donning his PPE, Nick, together with another first aid trained bystander, stabilised and moved the trail bike rider to a safer position.

 

As the injured man’s condition deteriorated, Nick assisted in the delivery of CPR and care of the man until, on the arrival of emergency services, they were able to hand the man over to their care in a stable condition.

 

In responding to the incident, at just 15 years of age, Nick showed extreme maturity and composure, applying his training learned as surf lifesaver to assist in an emergency situation. Following the incident, Nick went on to complete his Bronze Medallion training that weekend!