Teen drowning anxiety
EMERGENCY services are being investigated after a 13 year old Dalyston girl drowned at Williamsons Beach near Wonthaggi last Thursday.
Holly Nicholson was at the beach around 8pm with her family when her younger brother Sam began to struggle in the water.
Holly and her stepfather Harry Mastnak went to the 11 year old’s aid and he was brought to shore with minor injuries.
While trying to rescue Sam, Holly was pulled beneath the water and Mr Mastnak was unable to go to her assistance. He uncovered her unconscious body 15 minutes later and immediately commenced CPR.
Police and paramedics arrived and continued CPR on the girl for 90 minutes, but Holly passed away at the scene.
The incident was complicated after Mr Mastnak called triple zero and waited more than half an hour for paramedics to reach the scene, with police arriving as first responders.
Victorian Emergency Services Minister Jane Garrett said a call for an ambulance was made at 8.20pm, but the Emergency Services Telecommunications Authority did not pass the information to an ambulance until 8.44pm.
“There was a complicated sequence of events that will need to be gone through very carefully by this investigation,” Ms Garrett said on Friday.
“We are very concerned that it took some 24 to 25 minutes for an ambulance to be dispatched.”
An investigation is underway along with a coroner’s report.
The 13 year old Wonthaggi Secondary College student was remembered by students and teachers at the Dudley Campus after the shocking news spread the following day.
College principal Garry Dennis said Holly would be remembered as a “gentle and caring” student by the entire school community.
“We are all feeling the loss and our thoughts are with her family at this time,” Mr Dennis said.
“She endeared herself quietly to all those around her, both students and staff.”
Mr Dennis spoke with 20 of Holly’s friends on Friday morning in wake of the bad news.
“She was an amazing friend,” one student said.
“She always found a way to make everyone else feel good,” another said.
Wonthaggi Secondary College had support staff from the Department of Education attend the school on Friday to counsel students and staff.
“We have a counsellor at the school and we will be offering extra support to students and teachers, especially over the next few weeks as they come to terms with what has happened,” Mr Dennis said.
“We can never predict how people are going to respond to the news. It was very shocking. All of our students are important to us and Holly was a very special student.”
Mourners attended Williamsons Beach late last week and left flowers to remember the local girl who died saving her brother.
Holly was the fifth drowning death in Victoria since January.
Life Saving Victoria spokesman Paul Shannon said the incident was a tragic reminder all beaches can be dangerous.
“We urge people to swim at a patrolled beach between the red and yellow flags wherever possible,” he said.
“Read safety signs and be aware and prepared for conditions.
“Never swim alone and ensure your swimming ability is appropriate for the conditions.”
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