Sujan Adhikari drowned while swimming at Watamolla Lagoon in the Royal National Park in Sydney’s south on Christmas Day, 2016. Photo: Facebook Police recovered the body of a swimmer who went missing at Bents Basin on Boxing Day. Photo: Nick Moir
Police search a water hole in the Bents Basin Conservation Area after a 25-year-old went missing. Photo: Nick Moir
Rescue services search for a man who went missing after wading into a river in the Kangaroo Valley. Photo: SES
A Nepalese masters student, two young men on days out with friends and a grandfather trying to rescue two girls caught in a rip are among the victims of a horror 48 hours around NSW beaches and waterways.
The drowning toll over the past week rose to seven on Tuesday afternoon after a male swimmer died after he was found unconscious at The Entrance on the Central Coast.
It followed the drownings of five men over Christmas and Boxing days, including four in the space of five hours, has prompted an impassioned plea from police, who warned some victims had “hindered” swimming abilities.
This included a 56-year-old man who entered the surf at an unpatrolled South Coast beach despite not being a strong swimmer; and a young man, with similar swimming abilities, who waded waist deep into a Kangaroo Valley river.
“If they can’t swim, don’t go in. It’s as simple as that,” Marine Area Command Sergeant Paul Farquharson said on Tuesday.
“If they’re consuming alcohol – yes, by all means enjoy a drink over the Christmas period, but don’t go swimming.”
In one of the latest incidents to shatter a Sydney family, police divers on Tuesday morning retrieved the body of Mohamed Amine Hamza from a popular water hole in the Bents Basin State Conservation Area, near Greendale.
The 25-year-old from Punchbowl had been swimming with three mates in the Nepean River on Boxing Day afternoon when he disappeared.
His friends launched a frantic search for him before emergency services joined them, searching for Mr Hamza until 11pm.
“They were visiting the area like everyone else was being a public holiday and unfortunately this tragedy has happened,” Inspector Jonathon Keevers said.
The still water appeared deceptively calm on Tuesday morning with police warning swimmers about the currents beneath the surface.
“It’s very deceiving,” Inspector Keevers said. “It’s a pond area but it’s part of the Nepean catchment area and there is a slight current at Bents Basin.”
At another popular swimming spot further south, a 27-year-old drowned after wading into the river at Bendeela in the Kangaroo Valley.
Police say Sujan Sharman and three friends had been canoeing in the afternoon on Monday before they paddled back to shore and got out.
The 27-year-old, who travelled down earlier that day from Belmore, then took his life jacket off and waded through waist-deep water towards a rope swing.
He got into trouble and disappeared around 3pm. Three hours later police divers pulled his body from the water.
At 1.15pm on Monday Geoffrey Blackadder, a grandfather from Grafton, was pulled unconscious from the water at Wooli Beach, north of Coffs Harbour.
It is understood the man in his 60s had been trying to rescue his two young relatives, who got stuck in a rip at the patrolled beach.
Surf life savers managed to rescue the young girls but Mr Blackadder died on the beach.
In similar circumstances another man visiting the South Coast with his family was pulled unconscious from the surf at Kioloa.
Swimmers found the man floating in the water at Merry Beach, which is unpatrolled, at 6.25pm. An off-duty nurse started CPR but the man, from Kensington died.
The spate of drownings came a day after Nepalese student Sujan Adhikari died at a swimming hole in the Royal National Park on Christmas Day.
The 29-year-old, who had studied a masters of business administration at the Holmes Institute in Sydney, disappeared while swimming at the popular Wattamolla Lagoon just before 7pm.
Friend Anup Raj Neupane said Mr Adhikari had visited the lagoon last year on Christmas Day and was a good swimmer.
The work colleagues he travelled to the national park with on Sunday waited on the shore while Mr Adhikari made one more jump off the rocks and into the water.
“All of the friends were waiting for him on the banks of the river,” Mr Neupane told Fairfax Media.
“He wanted to go one more time.’
Arriving in to study in 2009, Mr Adhikari was due to sit an exam on Wednesday as part of the process to get permanent residency.
Mr Neupane remembered the aspiring accountant as a kind friend who “we used to muck around with but would never get upset”. A 29y/o man has drowned at the popular, yet dangerous, Wattamolla Lagoon at the Royal National Park. @AirlieWalsh#9Newspic.twitter苏州夜网/KxiI9Beqow— Nine News Sydney (@9NewsSyd) December 26, 2016
He was pulled from the water after a desperate search by his friends and bystanders. Despite performing CPR, he could not be saved.
Friends and relatives of the Hurstville man are now trying to raise money to get his body back to his family.
“In this difficult moment of life, we group of friends are trying to be each other’s strength and trying our best to send Sujan to his family member back in Nepal as soon as possible,” a message posted by several of his friends on Facebook stated.
High temperatures over the summer holiday period sends crowds flocking to the coastal fringes and inland waterways each Christmas and annually, emergency services brace for drownings.
But rarely do so many happen in one state in such a short period.
“What’s unusual about this spate is it’s very much concentrated in NSW,” Royal Life Saving Society chief executive officer Justin Scarr said.
“We would expect at this time of year we would see this same number but spread across the country.”
Research gathered by the society shows the victims in more than 80 per cent of all drownings across the country were male.
In a related tragedy on Boxing Day, a toddler who was pulled unconscious from a backyard pool with her twin brother died in hospital.
The twins, Robbi and Charli Manago, were found unconscious in the pool of their home on Charbel Place, Kellyville Ridge about 7pm on December 20.
Robbi remains in a critical condition in hospital.