A NSW mum who drowned while rescuing her son from a rip has been identified as a top executive of an organisation for the hearing-impaired.
Leonie Jackson, 50, was pulled from the waves at Congo Beach near Moruya on the NSW south coast on Sunday afternoon and died a short time later, police said.
She had gone into the water to rescue her 10-year-old son who was stuck in a rip, according to police.
She was helped back to shore by a surfer and pulled from the water by witnesses who performed CPR, but her life could not be saved.
The boy was uninjured, police said.
On Monday not-for-profit The Deaf Society posted a tribute to Ms Jackson on social media, saying she was the executive manager of the organisation.
It said she drowned while bravely rescuing two of her sons.
“Her two sons and her had gone to the beach for a swim. Sadly, her two sons were caught in a rip. Leonie quite bravely swam out to save them and did so successfully,” the Deaf Society’s CEO Brett Casey said in a statement.
“The sad and tragic news is Leonie was unable to save herself from the rip.”
Mr Casey described Ms Jackson as “not only a colleague but a dear friend” and said her death was a great loss to Australia’s deaf community.
“It’s a very tragic loss, not just for the organisation, but for the broader community here in Australia,” he said.
Ms Jackson took over the role as executive manager for advocacy and strategic partnership after previously serving as Deaf Society’s CEO.
She was the first deaf person to hold the role of CEO in the organisation’s 100-year history, according to a charity with which she was involved, the Benevolent Society.
“We are extremely shocked and sad about the passing of our colleague Leonie Jackson,” Benevolent Society CEO Jo Toohey said in a statement.
Ms Jackson had joined the Benevolent Society as board director late last year, Ms Toohey said.
“She was an inspirational leader and a very generous person who gave selflessly to the Deaf community over the past 25 years,” Ms Toohey said.
“Leonie made such a positive impact in her career and life, she will be missed by many.”
In a blog post from last month, posted on the occasion of Ms Jackson joining the board, the Benevolent Society wrote that she began her career as a teacher at the Royal Institute for Deaf & Blind Children.
There, she helped establish Australia’s first bilingual program for deaf children aged two to five. She spent 18 years at the school, and then five years at a media firm specialising in accessibility for the hearing-impaired.
While much of her life was spent fighting to help the deaf community, dedicating her free time to help organise a sporting event for the deaf, the Benevolent Society blog post said she had a passion for cooking and entertaining.