Jackson Parr and his partner were at his cousin’s engagement party at Sydney’s Austinmer Surf Club when they decided they really should get a nice photo of themselves.
As is customary when you don’t know anyone, and a selfie won’t cut it, they asked a couple of strangers to take a photo of them with the beach in the background. They checked it immediately after and laughed at their red ‘terminator” eyes from the flash.
Then Parr heard a cry for help.
“I don’t have the best hearing on the planet… but I just heard in the distance this shriek or this scream. It took my attention, I turned left to the beach and saw this woman running towards the party just screaming her head off,” the 30-year-old from Sydney said in a Facebook live video explaining what would happen next.
The screams he heard belonged to David Pelman, a man drowning out in a rip. His first instinct was to try and find him.
“It was one of those things… the same thing would happen to you but in a split second what ran through my mind was: screaming woman, beach, dark, someone’s drowning,” he said.
“The only thing going through my mind is I’ve got to find this guy.”
In a Facebook post explaining what happened, Parr said he “ran into the surf and just started swimming as fast as [he] could”. Admittedly, he’s not a strong swimmer but the adrenaline took over.
“After about five minutes I found the guy who was floating on his back choking on water. And he couldn’t swim and was stuck in the rip. I held him up treading water for about five minutes until another guy found us out there and we grabbed him by his hair and started swimming for shore.”
With the help of some locals who happened to be in the area – Scott Kohlhardt, Shaun Blair and Ryan Prain, the Leader reports – and some nippers boards, the men were able to help Pelman to the safety of nearby rocks, where a group of other men from the party pulled them out of the water.
“I think we all shook hands, and we handed him over to the paramedics, and then we went back to the party because they wanted to get the speeches underway,” Kohlhardt told the Leader.
By all accounts, Pelman is doing well thanks to the quick thinking actions of Parr and the other men.
“Thanks heaps bro wouldn’t be alive if it wasn’t for you and the boys you were with GOD BLESS YOU,” he wrote on social media.
As most real-life heroes do, Parr doesn’t see himself as a hero at all. Rather, he just wants everyone to remember swimming at the beach at night is not only “really scary”, but very dangerous.
“Even if you can swim, if you can’t swim, please please please don’t go swimming at night. There were a million different ways that story could have had a horrible ending,” he wrote.