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Rescuers found two missing divers in Cook Strait

The Wellington based Westpac Rescue Helicopter found two missing divers in Cook Strait.

The helicopter crew was notified of the missing divers when a Mayday was called by their tender boat. Apparently the boat lost engine power and was drifting out to sea and they were unable to pick up the divers who went into the water south of Island Bay.

Westpac Rescue Helicopter rescue crew Ruth Zeinert spotted the first diver in the water, about 200 metres south of Taputeranga Island at Island Bay. "He was quite easy to spot because he had a rescue sausage deployed" says Zeinert. "He indicated that he was OK and would swim for the Island but he did not know where the second diver was".

A few minutes later the second diver was spotted climbing onto a rock just off of Taputeranga Island. By this time the Police Marine Unit was on the scene assisting the first diver so the helicopter crew attempted to rescue the second man.

"When I was winched alongside of him he told me he didn't want to be rescued by helicopter, he would swim to the boat" says Westpac Rescue Helicopter crewman Dave Greenberg. "I spent a few minutes trying to convince him to come with me but he flatly refused saying he was afraid of heights. At that point I signalled the helicopter to bring me back up and we notified the Police and asked them to pick up the diver".

"I was quite amazed that he refused to be rescued" says Greenberg. "I have been working on the helicopter for nearly 15 years and although I have seen people reluctant to be rescued I have never met anyone who flatly refused".

The Police unit was directed to the man's location and when it was nearby the diver jumped back into the water and swam towards the boat. The Westpac Rescue Helicopter returned to base once the police had him safely on board.


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