A tragic drowning at a popular south-west camping destination has prompted an urgent water safety warning.
Police are preparing a report for the coroner after a man drowned at Princetown today.
Emergency services were called to Princetown, off the Great Ocean Road, after three swimmers got into difficulty in rough waters just east of the mouth of Gellibrand River about 10.40am on Sunday, January 2.
Two men, flying a local private helicopter, assisted in the rescue of the trio, landing their aircraft and commencing CPR on a 35-year-old man from Horsham.
Sadly the man died at the scene.
Police will prepare reports for the coroner, Port Campbell Police Sergeant David Banks said.
"They were camping at the Princetown Recreation Reserve when two males went for a swim and got into difficulty and an onlooker went to assist," Sergeant Banks said.
"Then all three got into difficulty, prompting a reponse from SES, Ambulance Victoria, the surf clubs, a police helicopter and a local helicopter."
Pilot Richard Nesseler, of 12 Apostles Helicopters, and his co-pilot were first on the scene after receiving a call from police.
The co-pilot, a trained lifesaver, jumped into the water while Mr Nesseler used the helicopter to blow the swimmers onto the beach.
The Warrnambool HEMS 4 helicopter arrived shortly after.
"We got there first on the scene and helped as much as we could," Mr Nesseler said.
"It was a very tragic outcome."
The unresponsive man was pulled onto the beach and was pronounced deceased after unresponsive to CPR.
One of the other swimmers, a 39-year-old man from Point Cook, was airlifted to The Alfred Hospital in a serious but stable condition.
The other who assisted the rescue was a 32-year-old man from Ballarat, who was assessed at the scene.
Corangamite Shire Mayor Ruth Gstrein extended condolences to the family of the man and those involved.
"It's an absolute tragedy and my thoughts are with the family involved and those who tried to save him," Cr Gstrein said.
The tragic event has prompted an urgent safety warning around the south-west's "treacherous" coastline.
Port Campbell Surf Life Saving Club president Scott McKenzie urged people to swim at patrolled beaches.
A number of Port Campbell Surf Life Saving Club members attended in an SES capacity and resources were on standby.
"It's terrible for something like this to happen any time, but particularly this time of year," Mr McKenzie said.
"It's a reminder for people to please try and take heed of the multiple messages of Life Saving Victoria of only swimming at patrolled beaches and always swim between the flags.
"There's a number of of beaches along our coast that are not patrolled and are not safe to swim at."
Port Campbell is the only patrolled beach between Apollo Bay and Warrnambool.
Volunteers rushed to the scene to assist at the incident, including six from the Port Campbell SES.
There have been a number of water safety incidents at Princetown, unit controller Luke Edwards said.
"The message really is to swim in areas that are patrolled, like Port Campbell," Mr Edwards said.
"Be very wary of the open water, there's rips that can take people out and they can end up not being able to get back to the beach.
"You don't really see the rips if you don't know what you're looking for.
"If something does go wrong there's no people there to assist, it's very remote and a fair way to travel."
He said such devastating incidents have an impact on the local community.
"It's always hard when you get a tragic outcome such as that, everyone there was trying to help and hoping for the best outcome.
"We're a tightknit team and we work together to look after each other after these sorts of events."
The site is a popular summer camping destination, with the reserve fully booked out over the Christmas holidays, Princetown Recreation Reserve President Darin Blaine said.
"I've been living in this area 40-odd years and that beach is not safe to swim in," Mr Blaine said.
"People have to be careful, the ocean is treacherous with shocking rips, it's not patrolled and it's not safe."
It has sent a shockwave through the area, a Warrnambool man camping at the Princetown Recreation Reserve said.
"The family is devastated and everyone is pretty shocked and upset at the campsite," he said.
"There were people on the beach at the time and a few have found it really hard.
"The man who jumped in to save them is a hero.
"He was a mess because he couldn't save the other man."
It marks a tragic start to the new year in Victorian waters this weekend following the death of a 7-year-old boy in the state's east.
Police Search and Rescue divers this morning located a body in their search for a child who went missing while swimming at Jarrahmond on January 1.
The 7-year-old boy had been swimming with a group of four others in the Snowy River when he got into difficulty and disappeared shortly before 6pm.
A search of the area conducted by local police, Air Wing and SES on Saturday evening failed to locate the boy.
The search resumed this morning and sadly a body, believed to be that of the missing child has been located.
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