AN elderly man who died on a popular Newcastle beach, only metres from where dozens of people were enjoying the afternoon sun, was knocked into the ocean by a wave, police say.
A Police Rescue crew was working to remove the man’s body from Susan Gilmore Beach on Thursday evening, after the fisherman was found floating, face-down in the water, at about 2.40pm.
Investigators were still working to notify the man’s next of kin last night.
Newcastle City Duty Officer Inspector Shane Buggy said police believed the man was a rock fisherman.
Police said the man was walking on the rocks when he was “knocked into the sea by a wave”.
The man did not resurface and a witness contacted emergency services.
The lifeguard who found the man’s body told the Newcastle Herald that he responded after reports of a person floating face-down in the surf.
Bar Beach senior lifeguard David Reynolds said a member of the public saw the elderly man fall and alerted the lifeguards.
Mr Reynolds said the man was reportedly walking and carrying a fishing rod in shallow water on Susan Gilmore Beach when he fell.
"A bloke came running to me and said he saw a bloke floating face-down," he said.
“A woman told a [council] ranger that she saw a man walking around with a fishing rod in the water and he fell face-down.”
Mr Reynolds said he conducted CPR on the man – who he estimated was in his 70s.
A Newcastle City Council ranger tried to help the lifeguard move the man's body.
But Mr Reynolds said it had become wedged between rocks at the bottom of the cliff, so they had to wait until more help arrived.
The man was pronounced dead at the scene.
Mr Reynolds said it appeared to him like the man had either suffered a medical episode before he fell or had been knocked off balance by the movement of the water.
Police and paramedics arrived soon after Mr Reynolds was alerted. They contained the scene, which is a popular route for beach walkers.
Meanwhile, the Westpac Rescue Helicopter rescued three scuba divers at Seal Rocks after they struck trouble on Thursday afternoon.
The man and two women found themselves in difficulty in the water just south of Boat Beach.
A Westpac spokesman said the man raised the alarm after he was able to get out of the water and seek help.
The rescue crew winched all three to the aircraft, to safety. They weren’t injured.