When Jacque Bonnay finally entered the water at the northern end of popular Boomerang Beach on the NSW mid-north coast, the surf appeared so calm that even the boardriders had given up.
They were probably unaware that the outgoing tide had hid a deadly trait that was to cause a family tragedy.
Jacque was the first to get taken by the rip, and his 53-year-old father was quick to follow him.
It is understood Mr Dick, a father of six from Newcastle’s Garden Suburb, was able to get to the boy and slowly push him back towards the shore.
With help from dad, Jacque was able to get footing on the sand.
But his father began to struggle, and told his son to continue to the shore.
Within minutes, Mr Dick was floating face down in the surf.
“Family was everything to him and always told me that ‘I would give my life for my family'”, wife Marianne Bonnay told Channel Seven.
“He ultimately did give his life for his family … He could not have made it, he could not have made it.
“He tried to come back, he tried to come back, but he couldn’t.
“We didn’t realise and when I realised it was too late and there was nobody, very little people, on the spot at the time.”
Jacque told Nine News that his father had pushed him back to shore, saying “swim, go to Mum”.
“I didn’t get to say thank you. He saved me, and Liam. He’s my hero,” Jack said.
Local surfer Jye Fischer grabbed his board and paddled out to save Mr Dick.
“[By} the time I got out there, and brought him in, by the time I got him in I knew it was too late,” he said.
Surf Lifesaving NSW’s lower north coast branch president Brian Wilcox, who arrived at the horrifying scene as paramedics worked to revive Mr Dick, said the conditions would not have seemed treacherous.
“I don’t think the surf was dangerous, there was not much swell, but the rip they got caught in was running pretty hard because of the run out tide,” Mr Wilcox said.
“It would not have been a metre of swell, there wasn’t even any surfers out which in itself didn’t help because they are the guys who are usually the ones who are able to save people.”
It occurred on the popular but unpatrolled beach, only 800 metres from the patrolled Elizabeth Beach which was “as flat as a tack”.
Ms Bonnay and another one of their other sons was on the beach when tragedy struck.
“If he was swimming by himself he probably would have been okay, but whether he has over-exerted himself to save his son we don’t know,” Mr Wilcox said.
“You would obviously never forgive yourself if you lost you child.
“It is just so tragic.”
Mr Dick was the second to drown at Boomerang Beach in 16 days, after a 22-year-old man from Orange entered the water and has not been seen since.
Since January, 28 people have drowned along the NSW coast, which Surf Lifesaving NSW said was a significant spike and a “worrying sign” for lifesavers.
“It’s very sad to see another drowning occur on the NSW coastline, and again at an unpatrolled beach,” NSW Lifesaving manager Andy Kent said.
“Many beaches are patrolled throughout the school holidays by professional lifeguards and we implore families and holidaymakers to head to one of these locations.
“In addition, volunteer lifesavers are patrolling on weekends through until Anzac Day.”
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