IT took only a split-second for Yeppoon woman Trish's stepson to be sucked out to sea.
When that happened, harrowing memories of Trish's dad drowning in a river near the New South Wales town of Griffith, 25 years ago, came flooding back.
The Capricorn Coast woman, who told the Morning Bulletin she wanted to be known as "Trish", was hoping to have a pleasant afternoon dip at Lammermoor Beach, two Sundays ago.
It wasn't to be at the turn of the tide.
Trish said on the afternoon of Sunday, November 16, she and her family - her boyfriend, her son (6) and her seven-year-old stepson - got into the water at Lammermoor Beach for a quick swim, "in knee-high water".
She said the conditions were a bit choppy and the tide was rolling in.
The family decided to leave Lammermoor and drive around to Kemp Beach, where the sea was calmer.
Trish said she and her boyfriend turned their backs briefly to walk towards the beach.
When they turned back, Trish's stepson had been sucked out to sea.
Trish said that's when she saw her stepson's head bobbing: he was in neck-high water.
She said they saw him trying to cling to a rock.
"But, the tide was rolling in and taking him out further and towards a rocky area," she said.
It was the actions of a bystander who saved Trish's stepson from going under.
A narrow and shallow channel leading to the rock, where Trish's stepson became stuck, allowed the "hero" to walk out and quickly grab the young boy.
"He (the bystander) just grabbed my stepson out of the water and handed him to me," she said.
"I didn't even get the bystander's name... my boyfriend shook his hand and thanked him several times.
"We want to thank you from the bottom of our hearts for saving our boy."
Since the incident, Trish said her stepson was reluctant to swim in the ocean.
She hoped he would overcome his fear through constant water safety education measures.
Trish wants other beachgoers to take heed of safety signs posted on beaches and to report emergencies immediately.