A 12-year-old girl drowned on a popular beach after a brave nurse jumped into the water and tried to save the teenager and her friend.
Cienna Jervies, 12, was swimming with another 13-year-old girl when they got into trouble at Collendina Beach in Ocean Grove, Victoria, around 6pm on Tuesday.
Nurse Elise Van Wegen had been walking her dog with headphones on when she was stopped by two screaming women who begged her to help the two drowning girls.
The 35-year-old immediately jumped into the surf and swam about 100m from shore to reach her.
The mother-of-two said she held the girls with her hands, but the surfing conditions were “just too rough” and the trio became separated.
Cienna Jervies, 12, (second from right) drowned at Collendina Beach. She is remembered as a “happy” and “artistic” soul who was “sometimes shy, sometimes lively.”
Nurse Elise Van Wegen (pictured) was walking her dog with headphones on when she was stopped by two screaming women who asked her to help the two drowning girls
“I got to both of them and they were conscious, talking and looking at me,” Ms. Van Wegen said Geelong Advertiser.
“I was holding her with my hands and then the waves just separated us all.” I could hear her [Cienna Jervies] screaming, “I’m drowning.”
Despite rescuers’ efforts, Cienna Jervies, a seventh grade student at Bellarine Secondary College, died on the beach.
Ms Van Wegen said another “hero man” swam to them and was able to bring one of the girls back to shore.
The nurse was taken to Geelong Hospital along with the 13-year-old survivor and the good Samaritan.
Ms Van Wegen has since been released from hospital but is “completely devastated” by the ordeal.
“Because I’m a nurse, I can manage myself well, but it’s very traumatic… I could have left my own family without me, so there are a lot of emotions,” Ms Van Wegen said.
Beachgoers reported seeing “very rough” and treacherous swimming conditions shortly before the young girl drowned.
Collendina Beach stretches 6km from Point Lonsdale and Barwon Heads and includes most of the open bay between Point Lonsdale and Barwon Heads.
The southeast-facing beach is known for its dangerous surfing conditions, producing waves up to 1.5 meters high and rips lasting every 250 meters – some of which are permanent even on the beach’s more prominent reefs.
The beach was not monitored by the Ocean Grove Surf Life Saving Club at the time of the incident.
The grieving family of Cienna Jervies, who died after drowning on the beach, remembers their “sissy” as a happy and artistic soul.
Beachgoers reported seeing ‘very rough’ and treacherous swimming conditions shortly before the tragedy (pictured, Collendina Beach)
“We are all heartbroken,” a family member told the Geelong Advertiser.
Family friend Zoe Mayne started one GoFundMe Page to help the family with funeral costs and ongoing expenses.
“Sissy was a well-loved, artistic, happy, sometimes shy, sometimes lively seventh grade girl,” Ms. Mayne wrote.
‘[she was] a daughter, sister, cousin, granddaughter, niece and the most loyal and best friend one could have.”
“Cienna was a very important and beloved member of the Clifton Springs and Bellarine community,” Ms. Mayne wrote.
“Jodie and Brent, Cienna’s parents, are understandably unable to work at this time, caring for their sons and trying to cope with life and grief.”
Ms Mayne said any donations were “very welcome” and would be used to support the Jervies family.
At the time of writing, the GoFundMe page has received 175 donations totaling $18,265 and the goal is to raise $30,000.