The partner of Alex “Chumpy” Pullin, who drowned on the Gold Coast on Wednesday, reportedly came across the beach tragedy after seeing emergency services at the scene.
Sources have told The Courier-Mail Ellidy Vlug and her mother arrived at the scene after paramedics were called to Palm Beach to treat the 32-year-old.
They had reportedly gone down to the beach to see what the commotion was all about.
Pullin, a two-time world champion snowboarder and triple Olympian, is believed to have suffered a shallow water blackout while spearfishing on his own.
“At the time paramedics were on scene, we were unable to locate anyone who knew the patient, so we just had to treat (him) with the conditions we found,” Queensland Ambulance Service officer in charge Justin Payne said.
“The patient did have water in the lungs which paramedics were suctioning while trying to perform CPR and provide oxygen support.
“There were no other signs of trauma on the patient so we suspect that the patient has succumbed to a drowning evident at this time.”
The resuscitation attempt from paramedics and two off-duty nurses lasted 45 to 50 minutes but unfortunately the 32-year-old did not survive.
Pullin was found unresponsive on the ocean floor at an artificial reef by a snorkeller, who called for help from a group of nearby surfers, Queensland Police said.
The alarm was raised and a lifeguard raced to assist, pulling him from the surf on a jet ski.
Pullin was known to frequent the reef, living on the Gold Coast with Ms Vlug and their dog.
One witness told Seven News they had seen people recovering a body from the ocean.
“That was going on for a while before I’m assuming they just stopped,” the young person said. “I was a bit shaken up.”
A holiday-maker said bystanders “sobbed” as they watched the emergency unfold.
“We just couldn’t believe what we were seeing,” she told Seven.
“I remember when the white sheet came out – it was just tragic.
“We just feel sorry for his family.”
Emergency services said Pullin wasn’t using oxygen at the time but was free diving and spearfishing on the reef while wearing a weight belt.
“We know accidents can happen like this under the water, our bodies aren’t used to going through that,” Senior Sergeant Chris Tritton told reporters.
“But really I don’t know what’s happened, it’s very upsetting.”