Death at Southside (Bells Beach) yesterday

Craig's picture
Craig started the topic in Thursday, 3 Mar 2011 at 9:15pm

A tragic incident occurred during yesterday afternoon just around the back of Bells on the Surf Coast where a group of school students and teacher where swept off a rock shelf they were snorkeling at and into the sea.

Unfortunately the teacher died apparently due to cardiac arrest, while luckily the students made it back to safety. My condolences go to the teachers family and friends.

The big question is how were these students and teacher allowed to go out on a rockshelf to snorkel when the swell was around 6ft (2m) and winds were howling from the south-west?

Apparently an adventure tour group were the ones responsible for the activities that day, and I could only imagine that the sea would of looked very treacherous yesterday afternoon with a large swell and onshore winds.

So this wouldn't have been a case of a large swell with clean conditions, where as the inconsistency of the swell could make the ocean appear calm with a small swell, before a couple minutes later some solid sets roll through, as unfortunately happens frequently on the East Coast regarding rock fisherman.

It's a sad story which looks to have been easily avoided.

What does everyone else think, and any reports from Vicco surfers who surfed yesterday around Torquay?

shaun's picture
shaun's picture
shaun Thursday, 3 Mar 2011 at 10:06pm

Just read about it in the Age online, very sad story. the surf school adventure operator said that the swell was only one meter and then suddenly picked up to two and a half(damage control), I didn't bother looking at bells yesterday as I figured it would be to raw and messy, it was a very ugly swell the sets on some of the protected points were five to six feet in the morning, it was eight foot plus on the open beaches the swell did not pick up later day , the tide dropped so it showed up more prominently on the reefs. It is just typical of the surf school/tour operators that are showing up all along the coast, a lot of them just aren't ocean savvy people. Any one with half a brain would have taken them for a bush walk along the coast. Cozy corner in Torquay would have been a better option for snorkeling but visibility would have been about one meter, I hope the tour operators are held responsible to send a message to the others, also you could not have pick a spot to go on the surf coast further away help.

dondellion's picture
dondellion's picture
dondellion Thursday, 3 Mar 2011 at 10:22pm

What an easily avoidable mess.

Anyone with half a brain could have seen that the swell was too big. What was the name of the tour group that took them?

shaun's picture
shaun's picture
shaun Thursday, 3 Mar 2011 at 10:32pm

I just watched footage of it on the news, the rip they got caught in appears to be at Jarasite reef which is the one that will pull you round to Bells on really big days.

tommo2's picture
tommo2's picture
tommo2 Friday, 4 Mar 2011 at 12:45pm

What happened was horrible and when i heard the news reporter saying that it was a school group snorkling at bells my ears pricked up. Why the hell anyone would take a bunch of school kids to bells is anyones guess. I don't know the full story but from what I have seen the whole thing sounds stupid and avoidable.