LAST Sunday at Newcastle Beach a 15-year-old girl was caught in a rip while the beach was unpatrolled.
Nateisha Crowe owes her life to her friend who swam to save her after she was dragged 20 metres from shore.
She was with a group of teenagers from Maitland Grossman High School at the beach. Her 15-year-old friend, Lachlan Mulquiney, swam to save her while two other friends found refuge on a sandbank.
In previous years, the beach would have been patrolled by Newcastle council lifeguards during September. However, this year Newcastle City Council budget cuts saw lifeguard hours significantly reduced at city beaches.
Patrols will not start at Newcastle Beach until September 21, with council-paid lifeguards on duty week days and volunteer lifesavers during the weekends until April 27. Meantime, Nobbys and Bar beaches and Newcastle Ocean baths are patrolled year-round.