Sea Scout rescues beach swimmer
Sabrina Parsons put all the skills she learned as a Sea Scout into practice when she rescued a man three times her size at a Northland beach.
The Onehunga teen and best mate Amohia Afeaki, both 15, made heroic efforts to rescue two adult swimmers who got into trouble in a rip at Matauri Bay, north of Kerikeri.
The two girls, who have been mates since meeting as eight-year-olds at the Aotea Sea Scouts in Onehunga, were glad to have the years of drills behind them when disaster struck on January 6.
They were boogie boarding at the usually safe beach when they were hailed by two men about 30m away.
They swam over to find both struggling and in distress.
"The water was nice but there was a southerly so the waves were pretty big," Sabrina says.
"They were screaming out for help and going under the water . . . Amohia had swum over and they were holding her board."
Sabrina joined her mate and had one of the men - who she later learned tipped the scales at 150kg - latch on to her board.
The man was not in a good way but Sabrina kept her cool and dealt with the flailing giant to keep both of them alive.
"He was really bad, his eyes were in the back of his head and he wasn't responding.
"I tried speaking to him but he wasn't responding so I raised my voice and instructed him to listen to me."
The sharper tone of voice finally got through but he was still panicking and struggling.
She then calmly told him to breathe every two seconds, a good point to start at when someone has swallowed a lot of water.
"If you don't have much room in your lungs you won't be able to breathe much more than that.
"I could hear the water gurgling in his lungs - that freaked me out."
Sabrina was nearing the point of exhaustion and on the verge of panicking herself when she found strength in a familiar voice.
"I got another adrenaline rush and I could hear mum's voice saying, ‘Sabrina, what are you doing', and that calmed me down," she says.
The man continued to struggle and grab at Sabrina until other swimmers and a couple of boats arrived.
"He wasn't staying calm, he was flipping over and he grabbed my arm. The board was sinking so I had to tread harder to keep him, me and the board afloat."
She says the ordeal lasted about 20 minutes before the man was pulled into a boat. Both were taken to hospital and later discharged.
The cool headed teen says she just did what she hopes anyone else would do for her.
"I'm not really proud of myself, I did it but it's just what I would've wanted someone to do if I was in that situation."
Mum and Sea Scout leader Christine Parsons is more effusive about her daughter's epic effort.
"We are hellishly proud," she says. "There were lots of things I didn't think the kids had taken in but they have. She's done a really, really good job."