A GATTON man drowned while trying to save his mates in dangerous surf when a camping trip to Noosa North Shore turned to tragedy.
The 21-year-old was one of five young men who attempted to ride a blow-up wading pool through the breakers at Fresh Water, south of Double Island Point, shortly after 1.30pm yesterday.
The blow-up pool overturned in the large swell, plunging all five into the water.
The men attempted to help each other, but the 21-year-old and a 25-year-old man were dragged further out to sea when their mates managed to scramble ashore.
Both men were unconscious when bystanders pulled them from the water.
Two nurses who were holidaying nearby managed to save the older man but the 21-year-old could not be resuscitated.
AGL Action Rescue Helicopter air crew member Jerm Cutelli said the drama played out in front of several other members of the large group of Gatton visitors.
As surf lifesavers rushed to the isolated beach from Noosa to Rainbow Beach, a five-member rescue helicopter team flew in and landed on the beach.
The team's doctor and paramedic took over resuscitation efforts but the man could not be saved.
The 25-year-old and a 19-year-old man were airlifted to Nambour Hospital while the other two men were taken by road to Noosa Hospital.
Police had not released the name of the dead man last night.
The tragedy came just a day after Surf Life Saving Australia's 2012 Coastal Safety Report showed there had been a rise in coastal drowning deaths nationally and in Queensland.
The report showed Queensland's surf lifesavers performed 2866 rescues in 2011-12 and there were 30 confirmed coastal drowning deaths in 2011-12 - an increase from the 2010-11 figure of 17.
SLSQ chief operations officer George Hill said the increase in coastal drownings was of serious concern to SLSQ as eight were preventable beach-related drownings, up from five on the previous year.
"All the swimming and wading drowning tragedies in Queensland occurred outside of the patrolled areas, reinforcing the message and need to always swim between the red-and-yellow flags," Mr Hill said.
"We are calling on the general public to assist us in reaching our goal of zero preventable deaths in Queensland waters.
"Ultimately our goal is zero preventable deaths and we will move forward into the new season with increased aerial patrols, daily
water craft patrols, dawn patrols and weekend beach patrols."
The report also showed the age groups representing the highest rates of fatalities in Queensland were 15-19 years and 70-74 years, with males accounted for 26 (87%) of the 30 coastal drowning deaths in Queensland.
Despite a king tide and large swell across the Coast yesterday, lifesavers reported just four other rescues - all from a rip at Caloundra's Kings Beach.
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