Relieved mother seeks hero kayaker

By PATRICK O'SULLIVAN


A Napier mother is desperately searching for the mystery kayaker who saved two teenage boys' lives at Waipatiki Beach, north of Napier, on Sunday.

Rebecca McIntosh's 14-year-old son Kennedy Grey was swimming with his half brother, 16-year-old Chance, when they were sucked out by a rip.

Witnesses persuaded a kayaker already on the water to paddle out to them, even though he said it was his first turn on a kayak.

"I'm so grateful that kayaker was there - Kennedy said there was no way they could get back in," she said. "He thought they were going to die even though he's a really strong swimmer. He's actually a junior life guard for Waimarama.

"He was telling his older brother what to do, which I think is really heroic ... Chance was sucked out further and was away from Kennedy. He was saying to him, don't panic, just float, don't swim. Just get on your back and breathe. Don't panic it's okay."

The kayaker also had trouble with the rip, until the group on the beach directed him to paddle in diagonally.

The boys let go of the kayak when they thought they could walk to dry land, not knowing there were deep holes between them and safety.

Chance could not manage the swim in his three-quarter length jeans and was dragged out again, said witness Mike Hockey of Havelock North.

"It was pretty alarming, like it was happening in slow motion," he said. "The guy in the kayak got in again and one of the brothers went back and pulled the other into shallow water. We all walked back and thought, that was lucky, but then the 16-year-old's girlfriend came running up the beach to us." Chance had collapsed.

"He was in pretty bad shape by then - he was going in and out of consciousness and had hypothermia."

They dialled 111 and covered him with blankets until the Lowe Corporation Rescue Helicopter took the brothers to Hawke's Bay Hospital. They were discharged the same day.

Between tears Ms McIntosh told Hawke's Bay Today she needed to thank the man who saved the boy's lives. "I want to give him a huge thanks - like, wow."

- HAWKES BAY TODAY

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