Petone woman rescues distressed swimmer

Locals credited with saving distressed swimmer

JODY O'CALLAGHAN
Last updated 06:21 23/01/2013
Susan
PHIL REID/ Fairfax NZ

HAPPY TO HELP: Susan Muszalski was one of two people who went to the aid of a man who tried to swim to shore after his boat broke down.

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One minute Susan Muszalski was heading to Petone Beach to watch the sunset with her husband, and the next she was stripping down to her underwear to rescue a distressed swimmer.

The 56-year-old Petone woman and a 43-year-old man - who was unknown to her - have been praised by police who say a 29-year-old man would have been in ''a lot of strife'' had they not come along when they did.

Mrs Muszalski said she did not think twice when she saw the man waving his arms in distress while she and her husband were walking the dog after dinner.

''We'll go down and watch the sunset, I said.''

But she missed the sunset, which happened while she was swimming about 500 metres frantically to get to the man about 8.30pm on Tuesday.

''I ended up stripping off to my bra and knickers.

''It's what everybody should do. You don't think about it you just do it.''

When she got to the ''quite solid'' man he was exhausted, had cramped legs and could not move. So she grabbed him by his strap-like life jacket and pulled him to shore.

''He said he was just so tired. I said, lay back and enjoy the ride.''

''I didn't know I could swim half way to Somes Island, but you learn something everyday.''

Lower Hutt senior sergeant Steve Braybrook said the 29-year-old, who did not want to be named, got into trouble when his boat broke down between the Petone foreshore and Somes Island and he tried to swim the 900 metres ashore for help.

His diabetic mother was left waiting in the boat, which was a new purchase the man had taken his mother for a spin in to show her.

He decided to swim for help, because his cell phone had run out of battery. Despite calm seas, there was a ''reasonable'' current, that made swimming harder, and he became ''exhausted'' after about an hour of swimming. 

Mr Braybrook commended the bravery of the two strangers who rescued him.

''They have done well to even notice him, and then to rescue him. He was pretty exhausted.''

''He was verging on a lot of strife if they had not come along.''

Once the boat was retrieved , the man's mother required some medical assistance for a diabetic low blood sugar.

Contact Jody O'Callaghan
Education reporter
Email: jody.o'callaghan@dompost.co.nz
Twitter: @miss_jodyo

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- The Dominion Post

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