Surfer dies at Green­mount

Tears flow for ‘lov­able’ firey af­ter tragic death

Tweed Daily News - - NEWS - Emily Halloran and An­drew Potts

BA­CON and eggs at Green­mount won’t be the same with­out John Mac­na­mara, as friends plan one of the big­gest pad­dle-outs seen on the Gold Coast to re­mem­ber the vet­eran fire­fighter who de­voted thou­sands of hours and dol­lars to sick kids.

Hun­dreds of peo­ple are mourn­ing the loss of a man who spent over 40 years as a Gold Coast fire­fighter af­ter he died on Wed­nes­day in the surf at Green­mount Beach.

His fam­ily and friends have been “ab­so­lutely bro­ken” as they are left with­out “the most love­able, hon­est and hap­pi­est guy.”

John Mac­na­mara, 70, known as “Johny Mac”, was a pas­sion­ate surfer and long-serv­ing of­fi­cer at the Bilinga-coolan­gatta Fire Sta­tion.

He passed away do­ing what he loved most – hav­ing an early-morn­ing surf at one of his favourite surf­ing spots with his mates.

He had been surf­ing at Green­mount beach for decades be­fore the sun would come up with a group of friends called the “Dawn Pa­trol”.

It is be­lieved he had a heart at­tack in the wa­ter and hit his head on his pad­dle board, or a sub­merged rock, just be­fore 5am.

Mr Mac­na­mara was pulled from the surf by one of his friends and at­tempts to re­vive him failed.

His wife and one of his daugh­ters were ly­ing on the sand with his body un­der an um­brella for hours while a hearse waited to take him away.

His friend Lori Pin­niger, known as “Curly”, stood close by.

He had spent al­most every day with Mr Mac­na­mara for the past 50 years.

“It was the sad­dest thing I’ve seen in my whole life,” Mr Pin­niger said.

“It’s such an in­cred­i­ble loss for his fam­ily, and for ev­ery­one who knew him.”

The pair met close to 45 years ago when Mr Mac­na­mara moved from Syd­ney and be­came a fire­fighter at the Bilinga-coolan­gatta fire sta­tion in 1973.

Since then, they had been in­sep­a­ra­ble.

“We be­came friends straight away as there wasn’t many surf­ing fire­fight­ers back then, so we

❝ It’s such an in­cred­i­ble loss for his fam­ily, and for ev­ery­one who knew him.

— Lori Pin­niger

stuck to­gether,” he said.

“We’ve done every­thing to­gether since. We have surfed all around the Coast. We did surf­ing trips over­seas.

“We had wives and kids come along around the same time. Once the kids were old enough we went out to­gether and bought cars for them.

“We’ve spent al­most every day to­gether for 45 years.”

Mr Mac­na­mara re­tired a cou­ple of years ago and only just cel­e­brated his 70th birth­day.

About 100 of Mr Mac­na­mara’s friends and fam­ily gath­ered on Wed­nes­day and clapped and cheered in trib­ute to his life as his body was taken away in the hearse.

The “Dawn Pa­trol” is a group of lo­cal surfers who meet at the so-called “knowl­edge ta­ble” at Green­mount every day be­fore hit­ting the surf.

Once a month, the group would fry up a big break­fast of ba­con and eggs, do­nated from lo­cal cafes, and charge $5 for any­one to any­one to en­joy.

Over the past cou­ple of years, Mr Mac­na­mara and his mates have do­nated over $60,000 to char­i­ties Kids With Cancer and Canteen.

An­other close friend, Bill Sc­holer, said Mr Mac­na­mara’s fam­ily, in­clud­ing his wife, two chil­dren, and 11 grand­chil­dren were “bro­ken” by the news.

“He was the most lov­able, hon­est and hap­pi­est guys,” he said.

“He’s had a won­der­ful life and it’s very sad to see it come to an end.”

It is un­der­stood a pad­dle-out is be­ing planned in the next few days.

“It will be the big­gest pad­dle-out Coolan­gatta has ever had,” Mr Sc­holer said.

PHOTO: DAILY NEWS

MUCH LOVED: Po­lice, fam­ily and friends gather af­ter the tragic death of John Mac­na­mara at Green­mount Beach on Wed­nes­day.

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