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Incredibly Close Call For Three Queenstown Swimmers

Area Prevention Manager Senior Sergeant John Fookes:

Police are urging people to be careful in the outdoors after three swimmers
were rescued from the Kawerau River in Queenstown this afternoon.

Police were called to Rafters Road in Gibbston about 3.15pm, after three
teenaged males attempted to go swimming.

The trio entered the river upstream of Rafters Road in Gibbston and
immediately got into difficulty.

One managed to get himself safely onto rocks, however the other two were
swept a short distance down the river.

One of the two still in the water was able to get to a bank on the opposite,
inaccessible side of the river, while the second was pulled out by a witness
who jumped down a bank to render assistance.

Due to the treacherous nature of the river, a rescue helicopter was
dispatched and within half an hour was hovering by each of the three swimmers
and rescuer so they could climb aboard to safety.

This was an incredibly close call for the young men, and it was so lucky
someone saw what was happening and heard the screams for help. A very short
distance downstream the river hits the Nevis Rapids, which become grade 5 and
are incredibly unforgiving.

Had they been swept any further downstream, we would have been dealing with
an entirely different scenario.

We urge anyone swimming in rivers, or exploring outdoors to do your research
first, and treat the environment you’re entering with respect.

Police want to thank all those involved in the rescue, and the people who
were so quick to raise the alarm.

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