Police officer jumps from Eagle helicopter in daring sea rescue
In a daring rescue on Wednesday afternoon, a police officer jumped from the police Eagle helicopter into the sea to help rescue two kayakers in trouble.
Police initially received reports that a kayak had flipped near Cornwallis wharf in west Auckland but when the Eagle found them, the situation was worse than thought.
They had managed to turn the double sit-on kayak back over and one had clambered back on board, but the other kayaker was still in the water.
"It was a fast outgoing tide and they'd travelled quite a way from where they were originally reported," said Air Support Unit Supervisor Sergeant Callum Young.
"Our crew kept an eye on them and reported back to the Police Maritime Unit and Coastguard as to their location and condition."
The Coastguard and Westpac Rescue Helicopter were also deployed - but officers on board the Eagle soon noticed one of the kayaker's condition deteriorating.
"The guy who was still in the water had started to turn blue and was struggling to hold on to the kayak, so one of our rescue swimmers was sent into the water," said Sgt Young.
The officer jumped into the water from the helicopter and used a rescue tube to help the kayaker, before getting him back onto the kayak.
The officer stayed in the water to help stabilise the kayak, while signalling to the Eagle crew about the kayakers' condition.
Shortly before the Coastguard arrived, the kayak flipped again in the fast-moving tide. The officer was able to turn it over and helped both kayakers back on board again.
When the Coastguard did arrive a few minutes later it took both the kayakers and the officer back to Cornwallis wharf, where ambulance staff were waiting.
No-one was injured but both kayakers were treated at the scene for the effects of the cold.
The officer was in the water with the kayakers for around 10 to 15 minutes.
"We attend a lot of water rescues but it's rare that officers have to jump in," said Sgt Young.
"It was great work by the Eagle crew and especially the officer who jumped into the water.
"The guys in the kayak were both wearing life jackets and did a lot of things right, but the conditions were very harsh."