Bairnsdale man who died after swimming at Paynesville remembered as ‘great man’
A man who suffered heart failure while swimming at Paynesville in Victoria’s east yesterday has been remembered as a man who brought joy to everyone he came into contact with.
- Mr Lasea Tavai was passionate about his family and his chuch, his brother said
- A 17-year-old boy had to be rescued after being washed into the water at Cape Bridgewater, in western Victoria
- Five people have drowned in Victorian waters since Christmas Eve
Bairnsdale man Max Lasea Tavai, 34, was swimming with extended family at Sunset Cove yesterday when he suffered heart failure and was pulled from the water about 4:50pm.
Bystanders performed CPR on Mr Lasea Tavai until an ambulance arrived, and paramedics worked on him for more than an hour but were unable to revive him.
Aquila Tavai said his brother, who was the oldest of seven children, had no children of his own but loved spending time with his many nieces and nephews, some of whom were with him at Sunset Cove yesterday.
“He was always hands-on with every single one of his nieces and nephews,” Mr Tavai said.
“We called him the manny — the male nanny.”
Mr Lasea Tavai worked at a pizza shop in Paynesville but spent much of his time volunteering at his local church, the Riviera Christian Centre in Bairnsdale.
“He would welcome people at the door, he would sing on Sunday mornings, he was on the band, he led the kids team, he would set up the chairs for every function,” Mr Tavai said.
“He was passionate about God.”
Mr Lasea Tavai was in the water with extended family at the popular swimming spot when he suffered heart failure on New Year’s Day. (ABC News)
Mr Tavai said his brother had struggled with depression and obesity but in recent months had gone to the gym every day and lost 80 kilos.
“In the last few months Max had actually turned his life completely around.”
Mr Tavai said his brother wanted to help kids from tough backgrounds fulfil their potential and aspired to work with prisoners.
“If he saw anyone in need he would always do everything he could to meet that need,” Mr Tavai said.
“Max was a great man, with a contagious smile, and contagious joy.”
Since Christmas Eve, there have been a spate of deaths in Victorian waters.
Five people have drowned, including a mother trying to save her child at Lake Victoria, near Bairnsdale, and a father and son at a surf beach near Cape Woolamai on Phillip Island.
There was a near miss on Wednesday on the state’s south-west coast, where a 17-year-old boy had to be rescued at Cape Bridgewater, near Portland.
The boy, who will turn 18 tomorrow, was swimming with friends around the rockpools on the west side of Cape Bridgewater when he was washed into the water.
While his friends raised the alarm, the boy swam away from the rocks and found the buoy of a cray pot, which he held until he was rescued by a local tour operator and members of the Portland Surf Lifesaving Club.
The club’s Roger Trewavis praised the boy’s quick thinking.
Mr Trewavis said the boy was in the surf for about an hour.
“He was glad to get back onto the beach I think,” he said.
Life Saving Victoria general manager Paul Shannon today urged people to think about their swimming ability before entering the water.
“We’re asking people to draw a line in the sand, and stop and think before they enter the water,” he said.
“People are going to flock to the beaches, they’re going to be tempted to park their car and walk to the closest piece of water, and the closest piece of spare sand.
“We want people to make the effort to go to a patrolled beach and swim between the red and yellow flags.
“Consider rather than going to an ocean-facing beach, maybe come inside the bay where the water’s a little bit more tranquil.
“If you’re really not a capable swimmer, consider going to your local public pool and having a swim there.
“If you’ve got vulnerable people, maybe you need a flotation device.”