Surf Life Saving President's Emotional Address After Father-Son Rescue Tragedy
A father and son have tragically drowned while saving a tourist from waters off Port Campbell on Saturday.
Speaking to media a short time after confirmation the two men, aged 32 and 71 had drowned, an emotional Life-Saving Victoria President Paul James, said it was "heartbreaking" for the Port Campbell community.
"It's with a very heavy heart that I stand here before you today to inform you that two of our members have died today performing a rescue at Port Campbell," he said.
"The two members were both highly experienced and long-serving members of our Port Campbell Surf Life-Saving Club."
The pair had taken off in a six-metre inflatable rescue boat along with another surf lifesaver after a tourist wading in the water near the Sherbrook River had been swept out into dangerous swells of up to two metres.
"Life-Saving Victoria is providing whatever support they can to the Port Cambell Life-Saving community and to our larger life-saving community," James said.
"It's just terrible, it's heartbreaking".
James said the area where the rescue operation took place was "very treacherous" and said it was "not the place to be swimming at all."
"These brave people, these heroes, have gone down to help," James said in an emotional address.
"That's not a place that I would suggest would be a good place to be swimming," he said.
'It would suggest to me that they were taking some sort of risk."
Port Campbell Surf Life Saving Club is a tight-knit community and James said the two men who tragically lost their lives have been highly experienced and highly respected volunteers.
"I would imagine it would be a heartbreaking time for the Port Campbell Life Saving Club, as it is for all of our lifesaving community".
A spokesperson for Victorian Emergency Services said it was a tragedy that the two men had lost their lives while doing their duty for the community.
"I know I speak on behalf of all Victorian Emergency Agencies when I say our thoughts are with their family, friends and with the community at Port Campbell," she said.
Corangamite Mayor Neil Trotter described the two men, who were also dairy farmers, as great people who were "extremely" community and family oriented.
"They were very good farmers, excelled in their field," Trotter told media.
"So it's not only a loss to the community, it's a loss to the broader community as well."
Former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull also sent his condolences to the families of the two drowned men.
"They have shown the very best of the Australian spirit selflessly putting their lives on the line to keep others safe," Turnbull said on Twitter.
"We send our love and sympathy to their families and pray for a speedy recovery for the third lifesaver and the tourist the three men set out to save."
Minister for Police and Emergency Services and Minister for Water Lisa Neville released a statement on Sunday evening calling the drownings an "unspeakable tragedy" and promising a full investigation.
"These individuals selflessly volunteered to keep people safe and devastatingly, they’ve lost their lives doing that," Neville said.
"My heartfelt thanks goes out to them and their loved ones for their commitment to their community."
The third rescuer travelling with the pair was winched by an ambulance rescue helicopter and taken to hospital in a serious condition with back and leg injuries.
The rescued tourist was taken to hospital in a stable condition suffering from hypothermia.