Devastating scenes at beach where Alex 'Chumpy' Pullin died

Sam Goodwin
·Sports Editor
·3-min read
Alex Pullin's parents, pictured here being joined by hundreds of mourners at Palm Beach.
Alex Pullin's parents were joined by hundreds of mourners at Palm Beach on Saturday. Image: Getty

Alex Pullin’s parents and girlfriend have been joined by hundreds of mourners at Palm Beach on the Gold Coast where the Winter Olympics star died on Wednesday.

Hundreds of people paddled out into the water early on Saturday morning to pay tribute to the dual snowboarding world champion, who drowned while spearfishing.

Pullin’s parents, as well as girlfriend Ellidy Vlug and their dog Rummi, were visibly distraught.

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Surfing world champions Mick Fanning and Stephanie Gilmore was among the mourners as dozens paddled out and formed a circle over the artificial reef where Pullin was found unconscious.

“He was always full of life and one of those people that you left feeling better for seeing,” Fanning told Nine News.

Gilmore added: “In the few times that we hung out he left such a huge impact on me.”

“He was so friendly and caring and it’s just incredible that we’re here celebrating his life. It’s far too soon.”

Ms Vlug was joined by friends as she waded out into the waves and laid flowers.

Surfers, pictured here paddling out in memory of Alex 'Chumpy' Pullin at Palm Beach.
Surfers paddled out in memory of Alex 'Chumpy' Pullin. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

Investigation underway into Chumpy’s death

On Thursday a specialist police dive team scoured the waters where Pullin died.

Pullin was dragged from the water unconscious around 10.40am on Wednesday and paramedics spent 45 minutes trying to revive him.

It’s believed he was wearing a weight belt but wasn’t using an oxygen supply, with reports he suffered a ‘shallow water blackout’.

An investigation into his death is underway, with a report to be prepared for the coroner, Gold Coast District Chief Superintendent Mark Wheeler said.

He said the 32-year-old's family would be kept informed of their investigation.

“It was an extremely tragic set of circumstances and our hearts go out to Alex's family and friends and loved ones,” he said.

Alex Pullin's father and girlfriend Ellidy Vlug, pictured here heading out to sea to pay their respects.
Alex Pullin's father and girlfriend Ellidy Vlug head out to sea to pay their respects. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

“We had specialist police attend the scene; we had our police dive squad attend that scene.

“We will prepare a report for the coroner in due course and we will engage with the family to keep them up to date.”

He said they were trying to determine if Pullin's death was preventable.

“We want to determine why it happened, whether there are underlying medical conditions and whether there has been a miscalculation by someone or something,” Supt Wheeler said.

“And what we want to do is give closure to the family, give the family answers and really important to see there is anything systemic to prevent it from happening again.”

Alex Pullin's girlfriend Ellidy Vlug, pictured here being supported by family and friends.
Alex Pullin's girlfriend Ellidy Vlug is supported by family and friends. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

Family shattered over Chumpy Pullin tragedy

Ms Vlug called him a “beautiful man” in a note she left for the media on the front door of the Gold Coast home they bought in 2018.

“Dear media,” she wrote. “Thank you for your thoughts, this is a very difficult time for me and I ask that you respect my privacy during this period of grief.

"Know that Chumpy absolutely loved life and lived life to the full.

"He lived for us - his family, our puppy Rummi, our amazing friends and the home we made together.

"He was living his dream, our dream. I am eternally grateful that I have lived my life with him and I am deeply saddened that his life has been cut short.”

Pullin was the flag-bearer for Australia at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

Known affectionately as ‘Chumpy’, Pullin won world championship titles in 2011 and 2013, and nine World Cup gold medals.

with AAP