Police have praised the courage of a teenage boy after he saved two women in a dramatic rescue at a Hawke's Bay beach.
A 21-year-old woman was swimming off Waipatiki Beach, 40 kilometres north of Napier, at about 4.15pm yesterday when she was caught in a rip and swept between 200 and 250 metres off shore.
Her female cousin tried to help her but was also swept out.
A 15-year-old Hawke's Bay boy, visiting the beach for the day, heard the cry on the beach that two women were drowning and swam out to their rescue.
He found one, and focused on keeping her calm, conscious and above water.
A kayaker and a surfer gave the women lifejackets.
A 16-year-old girl tried to help, but encountered difficulty herself and was helped by to shore by another person.
The boy helped bring the woman back to shore, where she briefly lost consciousness and was assessed by his mother, an off-duty nurse.
Several holidaying doctors assisted with medical treatment until ambulance staff arrived.
The woman was found to be suffering from hypothermia, and was flown to Hawke's Bay Hospital by the Lowe Walker Rescue Helicopter. She is in a stable condition.
Her cousin was taken by ambulance to Hawke's Bay Hospital. The two women were in the water for almost an hour.
Senior Sergeant Mike Stevenson of Hawke's Bay Police said the woman was understood to be on holiday at the beach with family.
Fiona White of Waipatiki Beach Holiday, where about 200 people are currently staying, said the woman was not staying at the camp, and a couple of campers had helped with the rescue.
She had called emergency services when a camper ran up to her and told her that a woman had been caught in a rip.
''We heard that she got swept out and some of the guys got swept out on surfboards and things.''
Hawke's Bay police were ''full of praise'' for those who helped in the rescue effort, Mr Stevenson said in a statement.
''Police understand the boy is not related to the girls at all so his efforts in swimming out to them and bringing them back to safety are admirable ... this is story that could have ended tragically but some heroic efforts have prevented that from occurring.''
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- The Dominion Post
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