'Courageous' man rescues drowning teens

KELSEY FLETCHER
Last updated 11:38 04/02/2013

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A man put his life on the line to save two teenage boys drowning at a West Auckland beach last night.

Pukekohe sales rep Brendon Pooley was eating fish and chips on Kariotahi Beach with his wife and four children when he was approached by a teenager who said his two friends had been caught in a rip.

The three Pukekohe boys, one aged 16 and two aged 17, had entered the water about 7.30pm and were still swimming at dusk when two of them were swept out to sea. The third managed to swim back to shore.

Pooley said it was a split-second decision to run into the surf with his body board while his wife drove to the top of a nearby hill to get phone reception to raise the alarm with police.

"My one goal was just to save them - I wasn't worried about myself," he said.

"I knew there was life out there that needed to be saved."

Pooley grew up near the sea and was used to swimming out of his depth but said the sea last night was "huge and dangerous".

"I stripped off, didn't think of anything else, just stripped off and grabbed a boogie board and ran in the general direction. By that time we had to use car headlights too," he said.

"Basically I got into the rip so it would take me out because that's the best way to get out, get in the rip yourself."

Pooley admitted he was daunted by the size of the waves and the darkness.

After yelling into the darkness for 15 minutes he heard a boy call back and saw one teenager floating on his back and another waving for help.

He gave his body board to the boy most in trouble while the other was able to swim to shore.

Pooley said the boys thanked God when he approached and he told them it was God who led the way.

"He was pretty happy to find me.

"I would have been out with him for about an hour and we weren't making any progress and then I thought we will go down the beach to get out the hole because I didn't realise how big it was, and then we finally caught some waves in."

At 9.37pm, nearly 50 minutes after entering the water, Pooley returned to the beach with the last boy, much to the relief of his own family.

Medical staff later told Pooley the boys had been in the water for three hours and the boy he dragged to shore had blood clots in both of his legs and would have lasted only another 10 minutes.

Auckland police said Pooley's actions last night almost certainly saved at least one of the three young men from drowning.

The swimmers were checked by surf lifesavers and did not require hospitalisation.

Pooley laughed off any suggestion of his actions being heroic.

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