Nipper, 14, saves lives of four men washed out by rip

 

A teenager who heroically saved the lives of four men swimming on an unpatrolled beach in NSW's far north has shrugged off praise about the brave rescue.

Clayton Schilg, 14, who was enjoying the last days of a holiday on January 9, with was his family and a friend at Wooyung Beach when he saw a group of seven swimmers being swept out to sea by a powerful rip.

Tweed Heads and Coolangatta Surf Life Saving Club nipper Clayton Schilg, 14. Picture: AAP/Josh Woning
Tweed Heads and Coolangatta Surf Life Saving Club nipper Clayton Schilg, 14. Picture: AAP/Josh Woning

The Brisbane teenager, a member of Tweed Heads Coolangatta Surf Life Saving Club, grabbed a surfboard off the beach and ran into the water to help.

"They had been taken about 50m or 60m offshore so I ran up, grabbed a surfboard and went to them," he told The Daily Telegraph.

Clayton used his athleticism and knowledge gained as a nipper to paddle beyond the break and use the rip to his advantage.

However, the real job began once he got to the distressed swimmers.

"It took me about a minute to get out to them, I was going pretty hard, then I went over to Ben (Jeffrey) who was struggling and told him to hang onto the board," he said.

"I tried to get the others to hold onto the board too. Then I just worked with them to get them back to shore."

Clayton helped four of the men to shore - three swimmers clung to the board and another hitched a ride on his back.

"I told them to kick once we got past the break but they couldn't because they were too tired," he said.

Clayton Schilg dragged four men out of the water and, with the help of others, gave first aid to the two in most serious condition.
Clayton Schilg dragged four men out of the water and, with the help of others, gave first aid to the two in most serious condition.

Once on dry land, a knackered Clayton put Mr Jeffrey, the worst of the victims, in the brace position while other beachgoers called paramedics.

Mr Jeffrey, 28, later told Clayton he was a minute away from giving up.

The Victorian man is now recovered after two hospital stints for secondary drowning.

A man who witnessed the rescue wrote a letter to Clayton's father Barry Schilg calling his son an "Aussie legend".

"If he did not act there were four potential deaths that day. Two definitely would not have made it back without him," the man wrote.

"As he continues his lifesaving duties, these will not be the only people to owe their lives to this brave fella."

Clayton with his proud mum Lea-Anne Schilg. Picture: AAP/Josh Woning
Clayton with his proud mum Lea-Anne Schilg. Picture: AAP/Josh Woning

Mr Schilg, who was not on the beach at the time of the rescue, was in disbelief.

"One of Clayton's mates called me and said he's gone in the water to help some people," he said.

"I was at our campsite nearby and ran around to try and grab a board and head to the beach. By the time I'd gotten there, Clayton had already brought these people out of the water and they were getting CPR.

"I'm amazed and very proud of him. He doesn't really like all the attention but we are so, so proud of him."


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