Surfer hailed hero after rescuing two boys caught in rip
WHEN he pulled up at the beach to walk his dog, Ellis Brown didn't realise the surfboard in the back of his car would soon help save two lives.
After seeing the surf at Wreck Point on Thursday, Mr Brown decided not to go for a surf and went to another beach, before returning to walk his dog.
When he started his walk, he noticed two young boys swimming.
He said it did not look too safe, but did not think much of it at the time because the boys were in the shallows.
But about five minutes later, as Mr Brown walked back up the beach, things had changed for the worse.
"I could see them out too far and thought 'there's no way they're going to get back in'," he said.
The woman with them at the beach, a friend of their mother's, asked Mr Brown if he could help them, but he had already started running back to his car to grab his board.
"It took about five minutes to get out to them because the rip was so strong," he said.
When he reached them, Mr Brown said the youngest boy, Harley O'Neill, was struggling to stay above water.
Mr Brown pushed the surfboard back to shore after pulling both boys onto the board.
Despite having no formal surf lifesaving training, he said his experience as a surfer instinctively told him the pair was in trouble..
But he said there was no hesitation when it came to swimming out to help them.
"I saw they were in trouble and grabbed my board," he said.
"I guess you don't really think about it at the time, you just do it.
"They would have drowned for sure. The little lad was nearly under by the time I got out there.
"His brother was so brave because he stayed with him the whole time and was trying to pull him out."
Mr Brown said he had not planned to stop at that beach and would not usually have the surfboard in the car with him.
"It's like it all just worked out perfectly to help those boys," he said.
The boys' mother, Leesa Wilson, said she could not thank Mr Brown enough.
"I was at a loss, I felt like a failure because I wasn't there for my children," Ms Wilson said.
"I'm so thankful to this man. It's a debt I could never ever repay. They wouldn't be here today if it wasn't for him," she said.