Geraldton man awarded the national Bravery Medal after attempting to save a man’s life

Headshot of Fraser Williams
Fraser WilliamsMidwest Times
An aerial view of Point Moore.
Camera IconAn aerial view of Point Moore. Credit: Ian Ogelsby

A Geraldton resident has been awarded one of the nation’s highest honours, receiving the national bravery award after attempting to save a man’s life in 2016.

Nicholas Austin was one of 11 recipients awarded by the Governor-General for displaying considerable bravery for his actions in trying to rescue a kite surfer on October 20, 2016.

Mr Austin had mixed emotions about being presented with the award.

“The easiest way to describe it would be bitter-sweet,” he said.

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“It’s not necessary something one wants to get a claim for, because considering there was a fatality involved.”

While kitesurfing in the area off Point Moore described as Hells Gate, Mr Austin noticed another kitesurfer losing control.

“There was a kite that was spiralling out of control … the terminology is called a death loop” he said.

“It was getting to the point of no return.”

An experienced kitesurfer himself, Mr Austin knew the danger the man was in, which is when he and another surfer nearby went to help.

“I knew exactly what needed to be done, but unfortunately couldn’t detach the kite from the man” he said.

While the other surfed tried to stop the man from being pulled through the water, Mr Austin attempted to stop the kite, by disconnecting the safety cord or releasing tension from the lines, but neither worked.

“I went down to where to kite was doing its death spiral … and cut the lines off it to stop him from being dragged out any further.”

Mr Austin then surfed back to shore to get help while the other surfer stayed with the man who was face down in the water, not moving.

A volunteer marine rescue boat arrived to bring the man back to shore but it was unfortunately too late and he did not survive.

While Mr Austin’s brave actions make him deserving of the award, he doesn’t want full credit in the rescue attempt.

“It doesn’t feel justified getting the medal, this other guy was also there ... it’s a little bit of guilt that this other person didn’t get recognised” he said.

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