A near-drowning in the river has given a local resident the fright of his life, and now Lakshay Kang is seeking the stranger who pulled him to safety on Waitangi Day.
Lakshay and his partner, who did not want to be named, were at the river at around 3.30pm when Lakshay decided to test his limited swimming skills next to the rope swing on Dominion Ave, opposite the low-level bridge.
Jumping straight in, Lakshay said the current took hold of him quickly and began pulling him down. His horrified partner stood on the bank, unable to jump in and save him as she was holding their one-year-old baby. She described the moment she knew Lakshay was in trouble, begging two men nearby to jump in and save him. One sat and ignored the events unfolding, but the second man leapt into action and jumped in to rescue the terrified man, the couple said. The couple’s 9-year-old son, in the water at the time, also helped with the rescue. “They were both heroes,” Lakshay said.
Taking to social media to publicly thank his rescuer, Lakshay’s story triggered a number of comments from people who had also had near misses in the river, including experienced swimmer Petra Gilbert, who jumped in to save her dog after it slipped down the bank a couple of years ago. “I’m a good swimmer with life-saving skills so thought I could swim round to rescue him. Before I knew what was happening, I lost my footing and was swept upside down and spinning around. I couldn’t work out which way was up; logs and debris were smacking into me. I got lucky and made it to the bank, but I will never ever underestimate the power of the river again,” she said. “I count myself as a strong swimmer and can swim 5kms in the sea, but it scared the bejeezies out of me. I thought I had met my match,” she said. Both Petra and her dog were fine, but the dog refuses to go near the water after the ordeal.
Lakshay feels lucky to count himself in the near miss category, and the couple hopes his rescuer will get in touch, as they would love to say, ‘thank you’.
“It was a miracle,” Lakshay’s partner said, “we really want to thank him from the bottom of our hearts.”
And from now on, Lakshay will be sticking to the pool, as he suffers from flashbacks and sleepless nights thinking about what could have happened.