Kiteboarder rescues woman from Penguin Island sandbar

Kiteboarder rescues woman from Penguin Island sandbar

CUTTING through the water with a strong breeze behind him Grant Lorje was excited to try out a demo kite board – then he noticed something in the water.

A woman, close to drowning had been trying to snorkel her way across to Penguin Island, during the afternoon of Saturday, January 12.

“I could see her floating on her back with her arms flailing,” he said.

“I called out to see if she was ok but I did not hear anything.”

That’s when instinct kicked in and Mr Lorje sailed straight to the distressed swimmer.

“She had already gone under a couple of times – she was saying ‘help me, help me’ as I tried to get hold of her,” he said.

“I said to her ‘Look I’m going to help you – don’t panic’.”

“I grabbed her with one arm and held the kite with the other.”

“It was difficult trying to hold the kite and hold her – I don’t think it was the best way to rescue someone – probably more of a hindrance.

“We drifted north a bit and it was difficult – that’s when I decided to drop the board by letting go of the safety releases.

“We just floated and I swam her back – as I got closer to shore I called out ‘someone help me’.

“It was quite hard. It looks easy when people are doing it.

“Eventually a couple on a kayak came over and helped me bring her into the shore.

“People on the beach began helping her before St John arrived shortly after.

“I was exhausted – I just collapsed onto the beach.”

Mr Lorje had been sailing on the north side of the jetty when he spotted the woman.

“She was just to the south of the jetty,” he said.

“I was a bit concerned because much of the time she kept saying something about her friend – it was hard to understand I don’t think she spoke much English.

“But I did not see anyone else in the water.”

Mr Lorje said it was not a big thing to help someone in trouble.

“It’s just something that you do – I was just happy to get someone out of the water,” he said.

“I just want to thank everyone who helped – I was just one link in the chain.

His concern for the woman’s friend was allayed after WA Police confirmed two people had been rescued from the water.

“Two women were rescued, they tried to swim from the mainland against the strong current to Penguin Island,” a police spokeswoman said .

“One woman a Japanese tourist with little English, was taken to Rockingham Hospital due to ingestion of water.

“Her friend was located earlier and was taken to Penguin Island (no injuries) she was seen by SJA but there are no notes on her being taken to hospital.

“Water Police, Surf Life Savers, the Shark spotting helicopter, Cockburn VMR and jet skis were all used in looking and assisting the women.”