Lifesavers' skills, efforts recognised

Palmerston North's Surf Life Saving Club's extensive efforts to find drowned man Jarrett Simeon have been recognised by the club's national body.

Surf Life Saving NZ has awarded the club the Central Region Rescue of the Month award for January.

Rescue of the Month awards are a chance for clubs to be recognised for their contribution to the community. Judging criteria looks at a variety of elements, including application of skills, procedures followed and weather at the time.

Mr Simeon, 27, a Feilding meatworker, had been swimming at Himatangi Beach at 2pm on January 5 when he and his girlfriend Morgan McKay started getting into difficulty.

They were about 800 metres outside the flags at the time.

Ms McKay was picked up by an inflatable rescue boat after she was reached by a surfer, who helped her stay afloat on his board.

It was then that the surf lifesavers learned of Mr Simeon's plight, but could not see him.

The subsequent search, which continued on until shortly before 9pm that night, involved surf lifesaving clubs, the coastguard and a helicopter.

At most, there were 10 IRBs on the water and more than 100 people searching for Mr Simeon.

Mr Simeon's body was found washed ashore about 5.50am the next day by a volunteer fire brigade member in a shoreline search, near the area the flags had been situated.

Patrol captain David Pontin said the rescue effort was its biggest of the season, on a par with a bumper Wellington Anniversary Day, which saw it make 25 rescues.

It had entered both those events into the month's awards.

Surf Life Saving NZ chairman Michael Bassett-Foss said the efforts shown by the lifeguards were outstanding.

Manawatu Standard