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Teenager rescued from drowning at popular swimming jump-off spot

A security guard is being praised after helping to pull a drowning teenager from the water north of Wellington.

Photo: Google Maps

Falelua Leitupo was keeping watch at a boat ramp at the mouth of the Pauatahanui Inlet.

It was his first day at the site, his firm was hired by the Wellington Regional Council to keep swimmers away from a boat ramp at a popular spot where swimmers jump from the SH1 overbridge above.

In the mid-afternoon he heard a group of boys yelling.

A swimmer had found the unconscious teen floating under the road bridge and brought him to shore.

Mr Leitupo went into the sea and helped carry the teen, who he thinks was about 15 years old, out of the water.

The trainee teacher said the boy was so tired and he had been swallowing sea water.

Once on the beach, Mr Leitupo who hadn’t been trained in CPR, began pressing his chest and then checking his airways.

“I just thumped his chest, but not that hard – for him to get a breath,” Mr Leitupo said.

“But at the same time I was also putting my heart to God because I know God can help to save him.”

As the pair waited 20 minutes for the ambulance to arrive, Mr Leitupo said he spoke to the boy in Samoan to reassure him.

He said parents let their children swim at the site unsupervised without realising the dangers, or that their children weren’t old enough to cope with the conditions.

Mr Leitupo said he was pleased the incident had a happy ending, but was modest about the rescue.

“As you know I’m a Christian, so being a Christian this is one of our priorities is to rescue someone,” he said.

But Mr Leitupo’s boss at Recon Security Scott Murray said he was very proud of his worker.

“Actions like his are just brillant, we are so glad he was there,” Mr Murray said.

In another incident yesterday, a swimmer has been hit in the head by a rower in Wellington harbour, but swam to shore.

Wellington Regional Council says boats and swimmers are increasingly sharing spaces, creating greater risks, and warn water users to keep a close eye out for each other.

-RNZ / Karoline Tuckey