Police rescue five students from the sea at Island Bay

06:00, Oct 23 2014
Island Bay
RESCUE: Maritime police rescued a group of five students, thought to have been drinking, from Island Bay today.

Maritime police have rescued five university students, thought to have been drinking, from Wellington's Island Bay after they got in to trouble on toy inflatables and were swept out to sea in gale-force winds.

Just after 2pm Maritime Police Sergeant Andy Cox said four of the group of university students, none of whom were wearing life jackets or had paddles, made it to Island Bay's island.

The fifth tipped out and was stranded struggling in the water before being rescued by Constable Tom McBride, a member of the police national dive squad, who swam him to shore.

McBride said the student was not a strong swimmer.

''As a member of the dive squad I thought I had better rescue him now rather than have to go back down later.''

The student was checked by paramedics and cleared and no injuries have been reported among the others in the group.

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The Westpac helicopter was put on standby but the island rescue was made with the police's own inflatable vessel.

Cox said the students, although apologetic, had taken an unnecessary risk and had presented the crew with a tricky rescue in tough conditions.

''Between them not a single brain cell registered what they were going to do was a dumb idea,'' he said.

The incident highlighted the importance of wearing life jackets. 

Police would meet again with the group and then liaise with the harbourmaster and Maritime New Zealand to decide whether they would be issued infringement notices for not wearing life jackets.

One Massey University student who was rescued from the water said he could not thank McBride enough.

He said the group of Massey and Victoria University students, had ''four or five'' beers to celebrate the end of the academic year but accepts they should not have gone out without life jackets in toy rafts given the gusty conditions.

''It was dumb and we should have thought about it,'' he said.

The Dominion Post