A young group’s Christmas Day trip to the beach turned into a disaster in a matter of seconds as rough currents swept two Indian immigrants out to sea.
Only moments earlier the pair, Anupam Chhabra and Ashu Duggal, had eerily posed for a happy photo among the shallow waters at Squeaky Beach in Wilsons Promontory.
Tragedy struck about 3.40pm when strong currents swept both men, 26, out to sea and they vanished.
Mr Chhabra‘s body washed ashore hours later with one onlooker trying to resuscitate him before he was officially declared dead.
The second man‘s body was recovered about 4pm on Saturday, after a 24-hour air and sea search.
Mr Duggal’s sister Anu told The Herald Sun her brother loved the water and had taken professional swimming lessons before the group trip, which was the pair’s first time at the beach.
Aditya Chhabra, the brother of Anupam and friend of Mr Duggal, took to social media in disbelief he would be returning home from the trip 220km southeast of Melbourne without them.
“I still can‘t believe that this trip was our last trip together,” he wrote.
“On 25th December, my brother Anupam Chhabra and his childhood best friend Ashu Duggal went for a trip with me and my friends but they never came back with us and went on a journey outside this world.
“This world would never be the same without you guys. Every moment spent with both of you was precious and I wish could have had a lot more.”
Mr Chhabra described it as the “hardest goodbye”.
“I will miss you always and I hope that you are in good place now,” he said.
“May God bless your souls. Your stories were short lived but your legacy will stay with us forever.
I love you both and I will always do till my last breath.
Just take care of each other in the other realm.”
A colleague of Anupam, Mandi Bennett, said he was a beautiful man, and “never stopped smiling”.
“He never said a bad word against anyone. He was the biggest ray of sunshine in the kitchen,” she wrote.
“He has been taken from this life way too early. You will be very missed, Anup.”