Brothers' tragic drownings ominous warning of summer dangers

Beach patrol
Beach patrol sign. Photo credit: iStock

A coroner's report on two Gisborne brothers, who drowned after being caught in a rip, is a timely reminder to those taking to the water this summer.

The report found that 23-year-old Paul Christopher Wakelin and brother John Peter Wakelin, 19, died by accidental drowning when caught in a rip-tide.

The brothers had been fishing with a friend at Makarori Beach on the morning of January 24, 2015, when John and his friend went out swimming and were caught in a rip in heavy surf.

Paul swam out to help the two, but also found himself caught in the rip.

Emergency services were called, but only the friend could be saved.

Coroner Carla na Nagara said that while the brothers were reportedly good swimmers, it appeared they may have panicked or not known what to do in a rip.

People should lie on their back and raise their hand to signal for help if they find themselves caught in a rip, the report cited from Surf Lifesaving New Zealand.

Ms Nagara said she wanted more New Zealanders to be aware of what to do when caught in a rip to reduce the rate of accidental drownings.

Surf Lifesaving NZ says 80 percent of the rescues they complete every year are a result of someone getting caught in a rip.