Vacationers save man from drowning

The quick-wittedness of British vacationers, from Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, saved a senior citizen from drowning last Friday.

The 79-year-old swimmer from West Bay is said to be in a stable but critical condition in George Town Hospital.

Life savers

Life savers Austin and Rhona Latham with children Michael and Becky. Photo: Elphina Magona

He got into difficulties and was rescued by a family 10 days into their Caribbean holiday.

The Lathams – father Austin, mother Rhona and their children Michael, 20, and Becky, 23 – were sunbathing on a deserted strip of West Bay Public Beach, when they heard the drowning man’s calls.

‘Becky and myself were on our towels reading our books, facing away from the sea, when we saw this man, who we assumed was a local, walking down the beach with a towel over his shoulder,’ said Rhona.

‘My husband was asleep under a tree at the time and Michael was listening to music on his iPod,’ she recalled.

It wasn’t long after that Mrs. Latham, a bank manager, heard faint noises from the sea and noticed the man on his back, struggling to keep his face up.

At that point the swimmer did not seem to have the energy to move his arms and legs and water was lapping over his face, she recalled.

Mrs. Latham alerted her husband and both he and their son raced down the beach and dove into the sea. They reached the man who was in extreme difficulties and dragged him back to the beach.

Mr. Latham, a 54-year-old driving instructor, then helped the man using his training as a civilian first aid instructor with the Air Training Corps to assist the man.

‘We weren’t sure how much sea water he’d ingested so we put him in the semi-prone position, on his side,’ Mr. Latham senior explained.

‘He was in a bad way and coughing up a fair amount of blood. He was conscious but his eyes were barely open and he couldn’t speak,’ Mr. Latham recalled.

Meanwhile, son Michael, a police officer with the Essex Constabulary, ran up the beach and into a restaurant to call for an ambulance.

‘All credit to them they arrived within minutes,’ the off-duty policeman said.

‘I ran back to down the beach with a Canadian firefighter, who’d overheard my conversation with the emergency services, and had offered to help,’ Michael remarked.

By the time medics had arrived the three rescuers had the man sitting up. The senior was taken to George Town Hospital.

Speaking later on his family’s behalf, Mr. Latham said: ‘It was the very least we could do. We could see he wasn’t in a very good way and did what anybody else would have done.’

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