SORELY MISSED: Aggie Auelua, 26, died after trying to save a 9-year-old boy who was washed off rocks at Fingal Head on Saturday afternoon.
SORELY MISSED: Aggie Auelua, 26, died after trying to save a 9-year-old boy who was washed off rocks at Fingal Head on Saturday afternoon. Source: Facebook

Tributes for Aggie who died bravely trying to save a child

A TRAGEDY in which a 26-year-old woman died after trying to save a boy from the sea at Fingal Head on Saturday, October 10 could have ended with more lives lost, according to rescuers.

Surf Life Saving Far North Coast duty officer Jimmy Keough said the Fingal Surf Lifesaving volunteers had been off-duty for two hours when the boy was washed from rocks at about 5pm.

Still, he said it took just 10 minutes for a crew to respond via boat to the incident near the lighthouse.

Mr Keough said an unpredictable wave, while the tide was coming in, seemed to be what caused nine-year-old Matt Hennessy to be swept from the rocks.

He was followed into the water by family friend Aggie Auelua, a New Zealand woman living on the Gold Coast.

Ms Auelua tried to save the boy, but got into trouble herself.

"It was a tragic end," Mr Keough said.

He said there were "heroic" actions from members of the community, including an off-duty surf lifesaving volunteer from Currumbin, who helped to get the boy to safety.

"It could have been a far worse tragedy," he said.

The boy was taken to Tweed Hospital with minor abrasions but no major injuries.

Mr Keough urged people to take extra care around headlands like Fingal, which is a popular spot for rock anglers.

He said the volunteers had been on patrol from 10am to 3pm that day. Those hours were usually extended to 5pm during summer holidays.

On social media, Mine Auelua, believed to be Aggie's cousin, posted a heartfelt tribute.

"Gone way too soon but let your last day on Earth be your legacy that will live on," Ms Auelua said.

"Absolutely proud of you for showing God's love to that young boy who needed help.

"God's waiting for you cuz - fly high."

Tweed/Byron police Inspector Adrian Telfer said officers who helped to save the boy would likely be rewarded for their efforts.

"It's obviously something we'll formally recognise at a later date," Insp Telfer said.

Mr Keough said a male police officer operated one of the rescue vessels, while a female officer also entered the water to help.

The Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter also responded to the incident.

Their statement said two children were initially reported to be in trouble in the water.

However, on arrival they found the adult female, who had made an attempted rescue, had been pulled from the water unconscious.

"The aircraft landed nearby, the on-board medical team assisted the Tweed Heads Ambulance crews who were already on scene before transporting the female to Tweed Heads Hospital by ambulance in a critical condition."