Blowhole victim meets mystery hero

By Abby Gillies

Aaron Mitchell has finally met the man who rescued him on Muriwai Beach. Photo / Chris Gorman
Aaron Mitchell has finally met the man who rescued him on Muriwai Beach. Photo / Chris Gorman

A man seriously injured when he fell into a blowhole at Muriwai Beach has reconnected with his mystery rescuer in hospital, where they lay only wards away from each other.

On September 30, Aaron Mitchell, 21, was in "absolute agony" with a chipped spine and broken pelvis, while waves bashed his body against the rocks.

He had all but given up, when a rescuer appeared and kept him out of the water until emergency services arrived.

"Most probably I would have probably drowned or something (without his help)," he said.

From his North Shore Hospital bed, Mitchell last week reached out to APNZ in the hope of finding his mystery rescuer, so he could thank him in person.

He got his wish - his rescuer visited him, before he was also admitted to the hospital to undergo a minor procedure.

The pair would be lying only wards away from each other on Monday.

After reading the APNZ article, 26-year-old Jordan Rippey, a chef in the Navy, went to visit Mitchell and introduced himself as the rescuer.

"I was sitting here watching a DVD and a guy pops his head out from behind the curtain and said, 'Hi I'm Jordan'," said Mitchell.

"The great thing is I actually got to thank him in person and shake his hand. I'm pretty chuffed about that."

The men talked about what happened on September 30.

Mitchell had been walking with his girlfriend at Muriwai Beach when he slipped on the algae-covered rocks and fell five metres, stopping in a blowhole.

He briefly blacked out, and when he regained consciousness he knew his pelvis was seriously injured: "I could feel the bones moving around, so I thought yep, it's broken."

"I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy."

At that moment, Rippey, who was at the beach with friends, heard a woman at the blowhole desperately yelling that someone had fallen.

Without thinking about his own safety, he climbed partway down the rocks and jumped into the water to help.

"He wasn't a healthy chap. He was in and out of consciousness and he was in a lot of agony when he was conscious."

He held Mitchell out of the water for about an hour until emergency services arrived and were able to reach them.

"I just kept talking to him most of the time - I was good conversation I think. I don't know if he was," laughed Rippey, who said he was growing cold and tired by the end.

Mitchell was transferred to North Shore Hospital where he had surgery on his pelvis, broken in three places, and remains there for six weeks of bed rest.

Rippey is due to be discharged today.

Several people have been injured from falling into the blowhole at Muriwai. Last week a 19-year-old man died there while preparing to go fishing.

Auckland Council plans to install additional warning signs, and is considering other ways to reduce the risk of people slipping on the rocks.

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