A firefighter stripped to his underwear to rescue a 14-year-old Tokoroa boy who had sunk up to his armpits in mud at Lake Moananui.
Senior firefighter Paul Carter didn't spare a thought for the cold when he stripped down to his underwear and T-shirt and went to the aid of Piri Tautari who had sunk into the mud at the lake on the southwestern outskirts of Tokoroa at 5.21pm yesterday.
The lake has been drained for weed control, leaving fishermen no choice but to traverse the wet mud to get to the water to fish in the middle. Piri sank about 15 metres from the normal lake shore during a lone fishing trip.
"He had sunk as far as he could go," said Mr Carter who, with other firefighters, slid a stretcher out on to the mud to the Tokoroa High School pupil.
Piri grabbed the stretcher and was eventually pulled to safety . . . and his boots stayed on.
"It was more muddy than cold," Mr Carter said.
Piri, who went fishing with no cellphone, does not know who called the fire service but he said he was extremely grateful to everyone who was involved in his rescue.
"It was quick," Piri said. "It took about five minutes to sink and I made it worse by wriggling. I was angry with myself for getting myself stuck. It was just stupid."
It took about 20 minutes to get him free.
He went straight home where he threw his muddy clothes in the wash and took a hot shower.
Butch Bisley, president of Tokoroa Sports Fishing Association, said Piri was lucky somebody had seen he was in distress and rung for help.
"He does a lot of night fishing. He could have been stuck all night. Really, it could have been fatal," he said.
Mr Bisley said he was frequently moving groups of children, with some as young as three, on from fishing at the lake unsupervised as late as half an hour before dusk.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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