Exclusive: West Coast kayaker 'extraordinarily relieved'

Exclusive: West Coast kayaker 'extraordinarily relieved'

A kayaker saved from drowning in a West Coast river on Saturday knows he made a bad call.

Dramatic video posted online by artist Brian Hunter shows Jethro Huntly screaming for help after he falls out of his kayak into the Grey River and is battered by the swelling waters.

A group of bystanders, including some of Mr Huntly's friends, quickly threw him a life buoy and pulled him onto nearby rocks.

He was later taken to Grey Hospital in a moderate condition.

Mr Huntly is extremely grateful for the help of his friends.

"I made a very bad call and ended up in a spot that I knew was going to cause me a bit of trouble," he says, "I'm lucky to be here right now."

The life buoy which helped save him was only installed two years ago. West Coast coastguards say he should never have been in the water.

Mr Huntly knew he had no chance against the current and could barely lift his paddle from exhaustion. At one stage, he says he thought he was going to die.

"The exhaustion factor was just unbelievable," he says.

He was "extraordinarily relieved" to make it out and is warning others to be wary of getting into situations above their experience level.

Mr Hunter thought Mr Huntly wouldn't survive.

"He went under a couple of times and I thought, well that's the end of him, because it was fairly rough and you could see it dragging [him] under. I just hope he thanks them or shouts them a drink for saving his life."

Mr Huntly says he had a beer with the men at the pub and then went "straight to bed".

The West Coast was battered by bad weather over the weekend, with heavy rainfall causing rivers to swell quickly.