Footy star’s ‘hero’ uncle tragically drowns at a popular Sydney beach swimming out to save two swimmers caught in a rip: ‘He will never be forgotten for his actions’
- Talitiga Taupau, 44, tragically drowned in Cronulla on Saturday
- Father-of-six tried to rescue two swimmers stuck in a rip
- Uncle of NRL star Marty Tapau hailed ‘hero’, ‘never forgotten’
A man who drowned at a Sydney beach on Saturday while trying to save two strangers has been identified as the uncle of NRL star Marty Tapau.
Father-of-six Talitiga Taupau is being remembered as a hero after swimming into a rip at Shelly Beach in Cronulla in a bid to save the struggling swimmers.
While one swimmer aged in his 20s made it back to the shore, Mr Talitiga and another swimmer were found unconscious and were pulled from the water by lifesavers.
Mr Talitiga could not be saved and tragically died at the scene.
Talitiga Taupau (pictured) is being remembered as a hero after tragically drowning while trying to rescue two swimmers stuck in a rip in Cronulla
The other man, who was in his 40s, is in a critical condition after being underwater for three minutes and has been taken to St George Hospital for treatment.
The 44-year-old was the uncle of Martin Taupau, who was driving to Brisbane with his family ready to start training with the Brisbane Broncos when he was told the tragic news.
‘It’s really sad that this has happened but he will never be forgotten for his actions,’ Tapau said.
Surf Life Saving NSW’s Director of Lifesaving Joel Wiseman told 9News volunteer rescuers are under enormous strain after numerous drownings across this state this summer.
‘We are experiencing one of our busiest summers ever with huge rescue numbers, and our volunteers have put in a massive effort to try to keep people safe along the coast,’ he said.
‘Despite the growing drowning toll, volunteers and lifeguards should be very proud of what they’ve achieved so far this summer.’
The 44-year-old uncle of NRL star Marty Taupau was pulled unconscious from the water and died at the scene
NRL star Marty Taupau,32, (pictured) told 9News that his uncle ‘will never be forgotten for his actions’
‘There are a combination of factors making this summer so deadly’, he added, ‘including people taking risks, alcohol consumption, and crowded beaches which can lead beachgoers to seek out unfamiliar and unpatrolled locations’.
‘Rip currents remain the number one coastal hazard and the 14 coastal drowning deaths this summer have all occurred at unpatrolled locations.’
NSW Police continue inquiries in the area, and will prepare a report for the coroner.
The patrolled area of the beach was closed for the rest of Saturday.
This latest drowning incident takes the New South Wales drowning death toll to 14 since December 1.
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