Friday, 24 November 2023 - 3:35pm

Lifesaving efforts earn national honour

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Assistant Commissioner Richard Chambers presents the Royal Humane Society Award to Sergeant Willie Tran.

A Hawke’s Bay sergeant has received national honours for his life-saving efforts to rescue a man at risk of drowning in the Wairoa River on New Year’s Eve two years ago.

Sergeant Willie Tran was presented with a Royal Humane Society Bravery Award by Assistant Commissioner Richard Chambers at an awards ceremony in Hastings recently.

The Royal Humane Society is a charity that grants awards for Acts of Bravery in the saving of human life. The committee considers a range of factors including the degree of risk to the nominee’s life; the duration of the event; persistence; and the impact of physical surroundings such as darkness and the weather conditions.

Receiving the award reflects the recipient’s dedication and willingness to save a life.

Willie and a colleague were called to the Wairoa River campsite after reports of a man acting suspiciously.

On their arrival, the man jumped a fence and into the river and attempted to swim to the other side. However the strong current kept him in the middle and was carrying him downstream. He was trying to tread water but became fatigued and was at real risk of drowning.

Willie entered the river and swam towards the man, who avoided contact. The man continued evasive actions and abuse for 40 minutes. Willie was eventually able to herd him towards the riverbank, but the man lashed out. Willie had to subdue him, then used a rescue tow technique to reach the riverbank.

The man was taken to Wairoa Hospital for treatment and later taken into custody.