Two brave Queenstown teens have been honoured for saving a young boy and his would-be rescuer from drowning.
Oliver Herron, 15, and Jackson Rogers, 16, were this week awarded council ‘recognition of bravery’ certificates by mayor Jim Boult.
“People like you are the spirit of our community,” he told them.
The pair were on the banks of Queenstown’s Kawarau River last Sunday when they saw a young boy floating past, yelling out for help, in the main flow of the river.
As Oliver and Jackson swam towards him, he got sucked into a rapid.
“I think he went under a few times,” Jackson says.
Before Oliver pulled the 12-year-old on to a bank, the boys had spotted a man who’d entered the water upstream in a bid to save the boy.
Jackson: “He was unable to swim towards the bank, and he got swept down.
“He had his arms waving in the air and was yelling for help, so Oliver just turns to me and says, ‘right, you stay with the boy, I’ll go’.”
Oliver, named Wakatipu High’s senior sportsman of the year last year for his rowing exploits, says the solidly-built man was con-stantly calling out for help.
“I was just telling him to float with the water so he didn’t waste any energy.”
To catch up, Oliver got out and sprinted along the bank.
“I was screaming to him to swim at that point so he could get on to the sand bank.
“I went to the edge where it dropped off and reached out and pulled him in. He said he was pretty close to giving up – he was just lying there, puffing.”
Jackson estimates the man was fished out a kilometre from where he and Oliver had entered the water. Mean-while, other witnesses had waved down a Thunder Jet driver who then picked up both the rescuers and the very grateful rescued.
Queenstown harbourmast-er Marty Black warns that “rivers are not benign things, they’re something you need to treat with respect”.
Boult says: “I think it was an amazing act of bravery.
“Two young fellows took a situation into their own hands, and did something about it. Without their actions we might have been looking at two fatalities.”