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Two Rescued from Palliser Bay

Two Rescued from Palliser Bay after Over Three Hours in Water

The Wellington based Westpac Rescue Helicopter helped rescue two men who had been in the water for over three hours after their boat sank near Ngawi.

At around 6:50pm Wellington Police Communications notified the helicopter that a man had swam to shore and raised the alarm that two other men were still in the water after their boat sank a few hours earlier.

The police also contacted fisherman at Ngawi in the Wairarapa who dispatched two boats to assist with the search.

The two missing men were reported to be in their 60's, both wearing life jackets.

The helicopter, equipped with it's Forward Looking Infared (FLIR) unit headed for the area shortly after 7pm.

Shortly after arriving in the area our pilot spotted the first survivor floating amongst some debris. He was located about 1.3km off shore from Te Humenga point, about 5km north of Ngawi.

Our crew directed the nearest fishing boat to the survivor and then we continued the search for the second man.

"About a minute later we spotted the second man a couple of hundred of metres from the first" says Dave Greenberg, Westpac Rescue Helicopter crewman. "We lowered a harness to him but he was unable to get it on correctly. As we were about to dispatch our swimmer into the water the second fishing boat from Ngawi arrived on the scene and one of the men from the boat jumped into the water and helped get the man onto the boat".

The Westpac Rescue Helicopter returned to Ngawi and awaited the arrival of the two saviours. The 60 and 69 year old Masterton men were both suffering from hypothermia and after being wrapped in blankets and jackets were flown to the Wellington Hospital Emergency Department.

"Without a doubt the men owe their lives to their mate who swam to shore to raise the alarm and to their life jackets" says Harry Stevenson, Westpac Rescue Helicopter Pilot. "They were also lucky the water was relatively warm and calm, which assisted us in locating them so quickly.

The man who swam to shore is believed to be in his mid 40's, also from Masterton.

"In an ironic twist, the 18 year old man who jumped into the sea to help rescue the 69 year old man was rescued by us a couple of years ago" says Greenberg. "He was a young lad on one of his first commercial fishing trips and he needed to be rescued after his arm was caught in a winch onboard the boat. It was great to see that he did not hesitate to jump in and assist when he was needed".

The 60 year old man is currently being treated in Wellington Hospital and is in good condition.

The 69 year old man is also in Wellington Hospital, in a more serious condition, but his hypothermia is not believed to be life threatening.

The man who swam to shore was taken by the Wairarapa Ambulance to Masterton Hospital in a good condition.


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