The wives of two fathers who drowned trying to save their sons from a dangerous rip in Queensland have labelled them as ‘heroes’.
Richard Capbagan and Denny Jade Caballa were pulled from the water at Teewah Beach, north of Noosa on the Sunshine Coast, on Saturday afternoon.
The two 37-year-olds got into trouble in a rip after rushing into the water in wild surf conditions to save three of their children.
Two of Mr Capbagan’s children made it safely to shore, while Mr Caballa’s nine-year-old son Tyghan was taken to hospital before being discharged.
Their wives, Cherry Apple Caballa and Sheri Lyn Capbagan, have branded them as heroes after their dramatic rescue attempt.
Richard Capbagan and Denny Jade Caballa (pictured together) drowned at Teewah Beach near Noosa on Saturday
‘Richard was always thinking of other people,’ Mr Capbagan’s wife Sheri told Courier Mail.
Mr Caballa’s wife Cherry Apple said the loss of her husband had left her unable to sleep.
‘We loved him, we miss him, and we’re very proud of him. He’s our hero,’ she said.
Both families were holidaying at a campsite near the beach when the tragedy struck.
The two fathers entered the water with their friend Xeino Sacremento, who said he was lucky to escape from the dangerous surf conditions.
Despite the difficult conditions, Mr Sacramento said the men were always going to enter the water to help after seeing swimmers in trouble.
The two fathers ran into dangerous surf at Teewah Beach to rescue their own children from a rip
‘It doesn’t matter if it’s their sons or someone else’s, they’re definitely going to jump in,’ he said.
Brock Harris and his pregnant wife Allanah pulled the fathers to the shore after rushing into the water to save them.
The couple had been camping at the popular beach since Thursday and decided to travel home a day early when they spotted the commotion in the water.
Mr Harris said the rip was the worst he had ever seen and he could barely see the men in the turbulent waves.
That didn’t stop the 23-year-old from following them and bringing them back to shore, as a woman on the shore screamed ‘my husband is drowning, he is drowning’.
He pulled the first man to shore and began CPR, fracturing his wrist in the process, before spotting the second man in the ocean 10 minutes later.
Mr Harris rushed back into the ocean to save him but his energy quickly depleted.
Brock Harris (pictured with his wife Allanah), 23, swam into raging surf at Teewah Beach, north of Noosa on the Sunshine Coast, to help a group of swimmers who were caught in a rip
Mr Harris said if it wasn’t for his wife following him with a boogie board he also ‘wouldn’t be here’.
‘The second bloke, I didn’t think I was coming back,’ he told the Courier Mail.
Clearly seeing her husband drained from his rescue and CPR efforts, five-month-pregnant Ms Harris also jumped into the large waves to help her husband.
The 30-year-old swam a boogie board out to her husband to keep him afloat, saying she didn’t want to ‘lose him as well’.
Mr Harris was joined in the water by others who also tried to help save the men.
‘We just kept each other from drowning to be honest,’ Mr Harris said.
Once the men made it back to shore he jumped back in a third time to save the nine-year-old boy, who was stuck in shoulder-deep water and couldn’t get back to shore.
The nine-year-old was revived on the beach and immediately ran back to his family’s campsite while Mr Harris recalled hearing the screams of a teenage girl.
A nine-year-old child was also pulled from the water and revived on the beach, and has since been rushed to hospital
Mr Harris fractured his hand desperately performing CPR on the men, but they couldn’t be saved.
‘We lost the pulse, but we didn’t stop,’ he said.
One of the men was immediately unresponsive as the other man’s condition quickly deteriorated.
Off-duty cardiac doctors, surgeons, firefighters and lifesaving officials all tried to save the men as motorists blockaded the beach from anyone entering.
Mr and Ms Harris said SES crews arrived to take down the campsite of the affected families and assisted them home.
Multiple emergency response vehicles and three rescue helicopters were sent to the scene, which is difficult to access from the ground.
‘The children were wading in the shallows and were caught out by a rogue wave, as a result of that a number of the children were dragged out into the deeper water, a couple of the parents have gone in to rescue the children,’ Craig Mckenzie from Queensland Police said.
‘It’s beautiful and fine at the moment but there is an underlying rip there and with rogue waves it catches people out.’
Queensland Ambulance Service spokesperson Michael Augustus said the beach was difficult to access, meaning surf conditions are usually unknown
Queensland Ambulance Service spokesperson Michael Augustus said the beach was difficult to access, meaning surf conditions are usually unknown.
‘We were provided assistance from other people such as [National Park] rangers and Surf Life Saving Queensland so we were able to get people on the scene rather quickly,’ he said.
Surf Life Saving Queensland’s Sunshine Coast regional manager Aaron Purchase said the incident came after a number of others on the same day.
‘Our thoughts are with the loved ones of the two men today,’ Mr Purchase said.
He is using the tragedy as a reminder for people to always swim within the red and yellow flags.
‘If you must swim at remote location, stay close to the beach and remain waist-deep. However, the safest place to swim remains at a patrolled location between the red and yellow flags,’ he said.
Teewah Beach is located at least 20km north of the Noosa River and is unpatrolled but has numerous campgrounds along the shore.
A report on the two deaths has been prepared for the coroner.
Multiple emergency response vehicles and three rescue helicopters were sent to the scene, which is difficult to access from the ground