Niue “To save a life”

Wednesday 9/4/2013 17:30 19 03.204 S 169 55.384 W Posting by Dennis: It is not everyday a person gets the chance to save a life, but a couple of days ago I got the chance. We had been over at a Heidi and Joe’s boat, Huck a Shannon 43, and had just gotten back to our boat. Barb went to bed and I was just starting to watch a movie and I had my headphones on. It was just a little before midnight when I heard Barb yells out that someone was yelling for help outside. So I jumped up and climbed into the cockpit. It was totally pitch black out and I could not see anything at all, then I heard a weak voice yell out “help me”. I peered over the side and could not even see the water so I groped along the side of the hull and yelled back that I was right here. Then I felt a hand and grabbed on tight to her wrist. It felt cool and fleshy as my hand dug in trying to hold on. She said to me “I am going to die, please don’t let me die”. I said “I got you, you are not going to die” and tried to get her to talk to me but she did not respond at all. I yelled to Barb to get the dinghy which we had hoisted out of the water for the night. As she is trying to get it untied Rob on Compass Rosey yelled out “Barb are you ok”. She yelled back “do you have a dinghy in the water, get over here!” Barb came back to the cockpit and held a flashlight and I could see the girl was unconscious and her head was barely above the water when the swells rolled the boat. My arms were getting so tired holding her so her head didn’t go under. She laid there total hanging by my grip. I remember thinking I just can’t let go no matter what. It seemed like forever before Rob finally got there, but I am sure it was only a minute or two. When he did he grabbed the girl and held her above the water while I jumped down into his dinghy. Compass Rosey’s dinghy is an old inflatable and the front tube leaks air so we were able to bring the girl around to the front and as we drug her in the bow just went under water so she basically just floated into the dingy. I yelled to Barb to get on the radio and call for an ambulance. The whole time I am trying to talk to the girl and reassure her that she was going to be ok, but I was not getting any response at all. As Rob was motoring toward the wharf I slapped her gently on the face and I could get a moan out of her so we knew she was still alive, but by the time we got to the wharf I could not even get that from her. I climbed out of the dinghy when I saw a car pull out onto the wharf I thought it could be the police but it wasn’t and I flagged them down anyway and asked them to call for an ambulance, they looked at me very strangely as I stood there in my underwear, but they took off to call for help. I few minutes later the police did show up and I flagged them down. By now the girl was totally not responding but she was breathing and she did have a pulse. The waves were luckily not too bad up against the wharf, the dingy was only rising and falling a foot or two and it was near high tide so the dingy was almost level with the bottom step on the crest of the waves. The two police officers came down the steps and looked suspiciously at two guys in a dinghy in their underwear with a past out teenage girl. They asked what happened and I recounted the story to them as the four of us tried to haul her out of the dinghy. It is surprising just how hard it is to lift someone when they are passed out. They just sort of bend and fold, but between the four of us we were able to get her up the steps and into the back of the police car. As soon as she was in the police car the ambulance showed up. They decided to leave in the back of the police car and I got to ride in the ambulance. Once at the hospital we unloaded her onto a gurney and they wheeled her in to a room. I then got to tell the entire story of what had happened again. After a half hour or so they decided that they were done with me so the police took me back to the wharf. I called Rob and he came in to get me. Both Rob and I then had to give a statement to the police of what happened. The police were wondering if the girl had not been out on one of the yachts that were moored around us. So we had to give them the names of all the boats and where they were moored. I can see why they would think that since the girl was dressed and even had shoes on. Not the way one generally goes swimming. I told them that some of the yachts where planning on leaving at six in the morning and if they wanted to talk to any of them that I would give them a ride to any boats that they wanted to go to but they said no that they would wait until morning and talk to the girl first. By the time I got back to the boat it was 2:30 in the morning and they wanted me to come back at six and answer a few more questions. When I got back to the boat I was so keyed up that I could not sleep so I watched movies until 5:30 and then headed back into town. It takes a while to get the dinghy lifted and in a parking spot. When I got to the police station they said that they didn’t have any more questions and told me that the girl had not woken yet but that she would be ok. She had just had too much to drink and her mother said that she liked to swim so they were leaving it at that. A few days later I stopped back to the police station and they said that she could not remember anything at all but was doing fine. So that is the story.

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