The heartbroken girlfriend of a hero lifeguard who died alongside his father while trying to save a tourist has praised his selfless act.
Andy Powell, 32, drowned in rough seas near Port Campbell, Victoria, when the rescue boat carrying him and his father Ross, 71, flipped.
His girlfriend, and mother of his unborn daughter, Amber Griffiths, mourned his death overnight along with dozens of friends and family.
Amber Griffiths (right) praised the selfless act of her boyfriend Andy Powell, 32, (right) who drowned alongside his father while trying to save a tourist
Dairy farmers Ross, 71, (right) and Andy Powell, 32, (left) along with a third lifesaver, rushed to save a man who had been wading in the mouth of the Sherbrook River
‘We lost two of the most beautiful people to ever exist – always putting others first. The love of my life, light of my life, father of my baby girl. My heart is broken. I miss you,’ she said.
The two dairy farmers, along with their lifesaver captain Phillip Younis, rushed to save a tourist who was caught in a rip along the Great Ocean Road.
The man was wading in the mouth of the Sherbrook River, near the Twelve Apostles off Port Campbell, Victoria, about 10.40am on Easter Sunday.
But the vessel carrying the rescue crew, from Port Campbell Surf Lifesaving Club, flipped over, dumping all three men into the water.
Their lifesaver captain Phillip Younis was winched to safety with serious injuries in a dramatic rescue by an ambulance helicopter
The 30-year-old Singaporean tourist survived and is in stable condition, but Ross and Andy’s lifeless bodies were later pulled from the water.
Corangamite mayor Neil Trotter has paid tribute to the brave father and son.
‘It’s an absolutely tragedy — a surreal situation. These are lifelong members of the community and lifelong friends of mine. It hits home,’ he said.
‘They were extremely community minded. Very strong family ethic,’ he said.
A friend of Andy’s described him as an ‘engaging young man’ with a ‘huge heart’.
The 30-year-old Singaporean tourist survived and is in stable condition, but Ross and Andy’s (pictured) lifeless bodies were later pulled from the water
Andy (pictured fourth from left in back row) stands for a photograph with a group of rowers from Port Campbell, Port Fairy and Warrnambool
Corangamite mayor Neil Trotter has paid tribute to the brave father and son (pictured is the scene)
The volunteer lifesavers were on a 6m rigid-hull inflatable craft and battled 2m swells as they tried to reach the man.
The surviving rescuer, aged in his 50s, was rushed to hospital with serious back and leg injuries.
Melbournian Ian McCauley, who was on holiday with his wife, watched on as the surviving rescuer was winched from the waves.
‘We saw a very professional ambulance helicopter pilot hovering in dangerous updrafts very close to the water,’ he told Daily Mail Australia.
‘He had lowered a rescuer in to the water who swam across and grabbed hold of the person in the water and they were both winched out.’
The lifesavers were on a 6m rigid craft and battled 2m swells as they tried to reach the man
An emergency helicopter winches the surviving lifeguard to safety. He was then rushed to hospital with serious back and leg injuries
Mr McCauley said they were only 50m away from very rough swells breaking against the cliff face.
‘The rescuer was very much putting his life in great danger. If it wasn’t for their bravery, more people would have died,’ he said.
‘I understand the boat was operating in a two-metre swell, so a very high swell, and we know that it is very treacherous down there and not the place to be swimming,’ Surf Life Saving Victoria president Paul James said.
He said the long-serving members of the lifesaving club were ‘heroes’ and their deaths were ‘terrible and heartbreaking’.
Mr James criticised the tourist for taking a risk that led to him needing to be rescued.
‘If the person has fallen into the water or for whatever reason they’ve ended up the water, it’s not a place that I would suggest was a great place for swimming or recreating,’ he said.
‘It would suggest to me they were taking some sort of risk to end up in the water.’
Mr James criticised the tourist for taking a risk that led to him needing to be rescued