24th January 2000
Hornby Lighthouse Bay, Sydney, Australia
I dig my toes in the sand and soak up the warmth of the summer breeze. It’s 6 days until I go back to school and I’m dreading it. But for now I’m here.
I got up, running to the shore. The water lapped at my feet, making the sand swallow them up. I ran further into the ocean and looked back to Dad. He was talking to Mum, so I kept running. The water got up to my belly button. I turned back to Mum, but instead of a smile I saw a look of terror on her face.
Then, I was knocked of my feet tumbling through the water. It felt like I was in the clothes in the dryer. I opened my mouth to scream only to be greeted by a mouthful of water, choking me and filling my lungs. I couldn’t feel the sand. I tried making my arms pull me up above the water, but I had no control over them. My arms just flailed.
I felt my shoulder crack as I was shoved into the sand. A burning pain spread through my body. Even through the salt water burning my eyes I could tell my shoulder was horrifyingly distorted. The edges of my vision started to darken, and then it all went black.
“She’s gone under,” my wife, Kieu, called out to me.
It took me a minute to figure out what she meant. I looked around for Cassie but I couldn’t see her. I ran into the ocean. The water tried to keep me back pushing at my legs, while the sand attempted to swallow my feet as I ran. I spotted her orange swimmers. I dove toward in but the waves kept pushing me off course.
I reached her. Scooping her limp body in my arms I sprinted towards the shore, stumbling a few times because of the water. I laid her on the ground gently.
“I’m calling an ambulance,” Kieu said, her hand frantically reaching into her handbag, grabbing her mobile cellular phone before punching in the numbers with shaking hands.
I started the CPR. I pushed her chest hoping to hear the spluttering of water telling me she was okay...