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Thursday, January 13, 2011

Saved by ‘bearded angel’

Here's a frightening story from South Australia as reported in The Islander entitled "Saved by 'Bearded angel'":
Regular island visitor Les Stewart is thanking fate and surfer Shaun Bailey after his near drowning at Pennington Bay on December 30.

Mr Stewart had been surfing at the bay and abandoned his board to continue body surfing as he had done at the bay for more than 20 years.

“I am, and was, aware of the dangers there and as a strong and experienced swimmer I was fooled by a false sense of security,” Mr Stewart said.

“Around 4pm, after discarding body boards, we continued to body surf.

“I was standing in chest height water when a freak wave swept me far out to sea and started to spiral me down to the bottom.

“After what seemed like an eternity I was completely exhausted and fatigued and every time I thought I was getting closer to shore I was taken out even further.

“I gave the distress signal before I was again pulled under as if at the bottom of a washing machine.

“I had given up hope of surviving and did not want to die this way.

“All of a sudden a bearded angel on a surfboard appeared to my left,” Mr Stewart said.

Shaun Bailey, 39, from Victor Harbor, had been on his way to catch the ferry home with his wife and baby when he thought he would take a look at Pennington Bay as he had never been there before.

“My wife ran up to the car park and asked him for help, and he risked his own life to help me.

“Although both Shaun and I were on his board we did get swept out further but finally we reached the beach where we hugged like long lost friends. I owe my life to him and will be recommending him for a bravery award,” Mr Stewart said.

Mr Stewart said he went back to the beach two days later to check for “danger” signs.

“There are none. Only a small cartoon on piece of wood.

“I feel that a large “DANGER NO SWIMMING” sign needs to be erected at the top of the stairs, situated in such a way that parked cars do not hide it.

“Interstate and overseas visitors as well as South Australian tourists need to be alerted to the dangers there,” Mr Stewart said.

It is gratifying to see Mr. Stewart has provided us with so much details, especially the part that he was being "spiral" down to the bottom and "pulled under as if at the bottom of a washing machine." Most similar cases may not be lucky enough to be rescued in time or as strong and experienced a swimmer as Mr. Stewart is and able to sense and remember all the details. Now we have one case study with some clue on washing-machine-like of happening. Does it applicable to other cases?

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