Campers come to the rescue

By Mikaela Collins -
The Northland Electricity rescue helicopter takes a man who got into trouble at Kai Iwi Lakes to hospital after he was rescued by a group of campers.
The Northland Electricity rescue helicopter takes a man who got into trouble at Kai Iwi Lakes to hospital after he was rescued by a group of campers.

A group of campers at Kai Iwi Lakes, North of Dargaville - including three teenage girls - have been credited with saving a man's life after he got into trouble while swimming.

When campers at Kai Iwi Lakes saw a man struggling in the water a large group of them ran down to help without hesitation.

The man was swimming from a pontoon at the lakes at the camping ground on Saturday about 1.30pm when he got in to trouble in the water.

Police, fire, ambulance and the Northland Electricity rescue helicopter went to the Kai Iwi Lakes Campgrounds after a man got into trouble in the water.
Police, fire, ambulance and the Northland Electricity rescue helicopter went to the Kai Iwi Lakes Campgrounds after a man got into trouble in the water.

Leanne Howells, assistant manager of the Kai Iwi Lakes Campgrounds, said when campers and locals (including three girls aged 16 to 19) saw the man, they rushed down to help him immediately. She said she was overwhelmed by how proactive everyone was.

"There ended up being 10 to 12 people, it was a huge reaction just amazing - it was a joint effort."

She said it took a while to discover where the man was because he was sinking in the fresh water, but no one hesitated to bring him ashore. She said the man was struggling in the water after experiencing cramp.

"Everyone pitched in to get him out and the campers were just amazing and stayed with him and kept him warm. Cushla Hagan (a camper) was particularly amazing. She stayed with them the whole time and drove his family to Whangarei Hospital," she said.

Police, fire and ambulance attended the scene. Michael Ross, Dargaville Fire Brigade deputy chief fire officer, said the man was coming in an out of consciousness and was airlifted by the Northland Electricity rescue helicopter to Whangarei Hospital.

Manager Andrew Howells said Ms Hagan and the Hagan family "went out of their way" and stayed with the family until they knew the man was okay.

Mr Howells said only hardy campers were left after the storm and while the actual water incident was not good the reaction from campers boosted the morale at the campsite.

Saving the man's life prevented a horror start to the year in Northland for drownings.

At least 12 people drowned in Northland last year - with the last involving an 82-year-old woman who was found dead in a pond in Kerikeri on Boxing Day - the same as in 2014 and two fewer than 2013.

At least seven people have drowned nationally over the Christmas/New Year holiday period.

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