I had never considered before whether I would risk one life in order to save another. However, since the day that I dived in to save two drowning boys, many, many people have asked me just that.
“Did you think about your own life?”, or “Did you consider that you could’ve lost your baby?”.
I was eight and a half months pregnant on that summer’s day in 2014, and the answer was: no – I did not think at all.
There were two little boys drowning in front of me and someone needed to something about it.
I was swimming in the mouth of Coffs Creek in Coffs Harbour NSW while my husband played with my 17 month old son Enzo in the shallow water. There were people everywhere as it was school holidays, however it seemed that only I could hear the screams of a desperate mother who couldn’t swim. By the time I realised why she was screaming, and after a quick scan of the crowded water revealed that no-one was reacting, her two sons had silently slipped beneath the water.
They were desperately trying to climb up each other in an attempt to lift their heads above the water, pulling each other under whilst being swept towards the ocean with the outgoing King Tide. As I reached the boys, I held one under each of my arms and managed to bring them to the surface and start to make our way to the shore. I remember the horror that I felt just seconds later, when I realised that I couldn’t hold them as well as keep my own head above water.
I have only this week met a young man named Jake Dean on Facebook nearly three years after the incident. He too heard desperate cries and saw what was unfolding in front of him. Although Jake was faced with saving what he thought was three lives, without a second thought, he also jumped into the current and somehow managed to swim all of us to the shore on the opposite side of the creek. Only when I emerged from the water, did he realise that he had in fact saved four lives.
Jake and I were both whisked away quickly by our worried families as we were both very much in shock, never having the chance to meet each other, and only vaguely realising the enormity of what we had just achieved. Thanks to Facebook and the media, we have reconnected this week and I have had a chance to thank a man for saving both mine and my daughter Mila’s life, as well as assisting to save the lives of the two little boys.
So, irrespective of whether my decision was “irresponsible”, “brave”, or “stupid”; there was a hero on the beach that day who also made an “irresponsible”, “brave”, or “stupid” decision, and together we saved some lives. Jake - Well Done, and to quote you in one of your messages to me this week “...we are AWESOME!”
Lauren is a guest of tonight’s episode of Insight at 8.30pm on SBS, which hears stories of people who had to make hard choices when the stakes were high.
Feature image: supplied.