Thanks for saving me
A Stoke family have been reunited with their reluctant hero, who saved a young boy's life in a dramatic rescue at Tahunanui's Back Beach at the weekend.
On Tuesday the Nelson Mail reported on a mystery man who saved a young boy caught in a rip.
Anthony and LaVerne Clark, along with son Aidan, 11, and daughter Gabrielle, 4, had been at the beach, near Parker's Cove for their first swim of the year.
Aidan had been collecting shells in water up to his waist, when he was swept up in a rip.
He was soon 10 metres out from the shore and his feet no longer touched the ground. His father tried to reach him, but the rip was too strong.
Then a man with shoulder-length blond hair ran into the water and pulled Aidan to safety, giving Mr Clark a chance to swim back on his own. After pulling Aidan to the beach, the man disappeared.
But yesterday the family were able to thank him in person at his Tahunanui flat, giving him plenty of hugs as well as a small hamper, after the man's flatmates contacted the Nelson Mail.
The rescuer was Estonian man Toomas Krivonogov, who along with partner Triina Trei, had been walking along the beach that afternoon.
Ms Trei works at Kite Surf Nelson in Tahunanui, and the couple have kite-surfed near where Aidan got into trouble, so they knew the current was fierce at that point.
They had seen a group of Project Jonah volunteers practising on the beach, and Mr Krivonogov said at first he thought it was some kind of training exercise.
"[He] was so close to the beach, and I heard them calling out. Then I realised that there was something happening."
He could see Aidan swimming against the current, but thought he was stuck in a fisherman's net because he was not making any progress.
Mr Krivonogov said once in the water he did not even notice the current, and the whole rescue felt as if it only took seconds.
After he brought Aidan back to shore, and checked he was OK, he spent half an hour catching his breath further down the beach. Aidan had been a pretty good swimmer, and that had made the rescue easier, he said.
Although he was happy to have helped, he would never have come forward unless the family had asked and his flatmates had encouraged him, he said.
"No, I would rather be a mysterious helper."
Aidan said it felt great to be able to thank his hero, and upon meeting him he recognised him.
"Thank you for saving me," he said. Mrs Clark said being able to express their gratitude and bring closure to the incident was important.
She told Mr Krivonogov she believed if he had not been there that day, they would have lost Aidan.
"Once you realised the danger there was no hesitation to putting yourself at risk."
Although husband Anthony was out of town yesterday, Mrs Clark said he wanted to shake Mr Krivonogov's hand, and take him out for a beer.