Water tragedy: Man dies, child rescued at Seadown, near Timaru

The man who died after being swept out to sea near Timaru can now be named.

58-year-old Richard James Walsh from Levels Valley was swimming in Seadown on Saturday when the incident happened.

A police spokesperson said his death has been referred to the Coroner.

“Police offer their condolences to his family and friends.”

The alarm was raised at 4.30pm on Saturday, with emergency services finding a young child in the water, police said.

“The child was brought to shore, where they were treated by ambulance staff.

“Due to the treacherous conditions, a helicopter was required to search for the man who had been swept out to sea.”

His body was found a short time later.

Earlier this week a man died after being pulled from the surf at Piha.

The man aged in his 60s drowned at the Auckland west coast beach in the late afternoon.
St John Ambulance, Fire and Emergency NZ and Piha lifesavers did what they could to resuscitate the stricken swimmer who police say was reported to be in difficulty in the water.

The Auckland Westpac Rescue Helicopter arrived at the beach to find CPR was in progress when crew arrived.

Henderson resident Nigel Heard said he and a family member arrived at the beach about 4.45pm on Tuesday and saw a guard running from the surf lifesaving club to the beach.

He described conditions at the beach as awful and “pretty wild”.

According to Water Safety NZ statistics up to date at the start of this week there have been at least seven drownings this year.

The statistics do not include a teenage swimmer who was discovered in a home pool at a Christchurch property on Sunday.

Last year 69 people drowned.

Six people drowned in our waters in the first seven days of the year.

Four of the deaths happened in a horror 50 hours with swimmers dying in lakes across the North Island, while on January 1, Reece Nahana John Thomas, 36, died following a water incident in the sea at Kaikōura.

Make good decisions

The devastating start to the year’s drowning toll saw safety advocates sounding a warning that the high number of people enjoying the warmer water could lead to more dramas along our coastlines, as Kiwis flock to beaches and rivers for respite.

Water Safety New Zealand appealed to all people to make wise decisions around water.

“We know Kiwis will continue to enjoy our beautiful waterways as the warm weather continues. We need everyone to take responsibility and think about water safety,” said spokeswoman Sheridan Bruce.

“While our waterways are our playground they can be incredibly unforgiving.”

Key safety messages included always taking a buddy, swimming between the flags at patrolled beaches, constant active adult supervision of children around water at all times, watching out for rips and always wearing a lifejacket on boats and while fishing from rocks or net fishing.

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