Referring to himself only as “Rick” from the ‘Mojo’ sailboat, the man told The Phuket News of the incident, wanting to highlight that he should not have been forced into the position to carry out the rescue.
Rick was forced to come to the rescue last Tuesday to safely bringing back to shore a Chinese tourist in distress and the local official tasked as part of the “emergency beach safety team” who was trying to rescue him.
Rick paddled out with a friend to carry out the rescues after noticing the two in trouble about 100 metres from shore at about midday, former Nai Harn chief lifeguard Jula Nontree confirmed. (See story here.)
Speaking to The Phuket News last Wednesday (Oct 18), Rick said, “I’m 53 years old myself. I was so exhausted by the time I got back to shore, I had to stop to recover as well. There should have been lifeguards on duty who knew how to respond.
“There has to be lifeguards. If I wasn’t there, both of the people I saved would have died,” he said.
“I had just parked my motorbike at Nai Harn Beach. I heard someone shouting out ‘help’, but thought it was some kids playing or joking, because no one was doing anything,” he explained.
“There were red flags, and even I could see there was a rip tide.
“There was a lifeguard tent but no lifesaver in it, and a lot of younger people sitting on deck chairs simply watched on,” he said.
“Eventually, I thought if I didn’t do something, both of them will drown. I have been a surfer for most of my life so I went out to the water and brought back both the Asian man, I think he was Chinese, and the ‘rescue worker’.
“My wife also helped,” he added.
“The Chinese man was just about dead… I thought he was going to die. He was in and out of consciousness, but I never heard what happened to him after I saw him into the ambulance.
“The ‘rescue official’ had swum out but did not know how to use the paddle board,” he concluded.
Meanwhile, Mr Jula today (Oct 23) confirmed to The Phuket News that he had since learned that both the tourist and the rescue official were released from hospital shortly after being admitted and that the rescue official still returns to the beach each day to carry out his duties.