Thanks offered to rescuers

By Doug Laing


Napier schoolboy Joshua McQuoid and father Shane reckon they were never cut out for lives in the media spotlight.

But yesterday they found a need to front, to thank those who saved the boy in a dramatic beach rescue at the weekend.

And - although conceding "I don't like it" as he faced the cameras and the questions of tv, radio and newspapers - Joshua, 12, also wanted to warn others about the waves which have claimed at least five lives on Napier's popular Marine Parade beachfront in the last 20 years.

Like several who have been caught in the past, the Napier Intermediate School pupil was just a few steps into the water when the waves dragged him out about 5pm on Sunday.

Unable to gain firm footing on the gravelly seabead, he was struggling for his life as members of the public and police rushed in, forming a human-chain to haul him to safety.

When Joshua, cousin Hikairo Ratapu and friends went to the beach to play along the water's edge they had no concept of the size or danger of the waves, since made plain in video footage of the drama.

He warned anyone going to the beach should "wait for five minutes, and watch for signs of the waves being too big or too strong".

His father, who had to take a day off work yesterday as a painter on the new Farmers department store being built just across the road from where the drama unfolded, said: "We want to thank all of those people. There's no way we can thank them all individually, but they all have our thanks. Without them we might have lost our son."

"The scary thing is they risked their lives," said Mr McQuoid, who was at home with children's mother Kathleen Kuru when contacted by police and told of what was happened.

He rushed to the parade, by which time his son was in an ambulance, and what he saw, gave him some appreciation of what rescuers had done.

"With the size of those waves they [rescuers] could have been pulled out too," he said.

With particular reference to police and fire and rescue service helper Mike Bond, the officers dropping vests and other uniform wear to leap into the surf to reach the boy, Mr McQuoid said: "To jump into the water with nothing, without life preservers ... Amazing."

The beach has had a history of tragedy and similar rescues over the years, mostly involving people snatched by waves at the water's edge, and mainly in late January and early February.

More than 10 years ago it led to a decision to have have life-preserving belts in police cars which patrolled the inner-city and which could be called into the emergencies, and later to the use of red flags and signs to people away from the water's edge when it was considered dangerous.

It became a police roll to decide when, and for Napier City Council staff to put the warnings in place, but in 2006, after being told Police no longer had the resources to make the decisions, the council to moved to do away with the temporary warnings in favour of permanent more general warning signs.

The last fatality on Pacific Beach was that of a 5-year-old boy in January 2008.

- HAWKES BAY TODAY

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