Thursday, February 29, 2024

Coastguard paddler rescues girl

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Tracey Laxon was off duty when she rescued a girl swept out to sea.

A Maraetai Coastguard member has rescued a girl who was blown out to sea.

On Friday October 8, Tracey Laxon, a Maraetai resident, was on her paddleboard on the Maraetai Beach shoreline when she heard ladies screaming from the wharf.

“They were waving their arms,” she says.

A nine-year-old girl was being swept out to sea on her paddleboard. She was already 200m offshore.

Immediately Laxon rowed into shore to tell her off-duty Coastguard skipper, Mike Sommerville, that she was going to get the girl and to call for back-up.

He phoned 111 and kept police operations apprised of the situations.

Three police cars, an ambulance and a Westpac helicopter arrived on the scene.

When Laxon got to the girl, she was distraught.

“She was starting to go under,” Laxon says. “She was saying ‘I’m gonna die, I’m gonna die.'”

Laxon managed to tow the girl into the beach by joining their ankle straps together. By the time she’d gotten to her, she’d drifted about 400m out.

The helicopter remained hovering around them to monitor the situation.

“The wind was really strong so I couldn’t get back to the wharf,” she says. “So I went sideways across the wind.”

Since the rescue, the girl has been terrified of the water, Laxon says.

“She was really traumatised but it’s all okay. The ambulance staff checked her out.”

Laxon has been training with Coastguard Maraetai for two years. Her advice for people on paddleboards is to wear a lifejacket, stay calm and stay with the board.

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