'I almost died out there' - heroic KZN lifeguard

2015-12-31 12:22
Luke McCracken and the teenager he rescued at Zinkwazi beach (Supplied)

Luke McCracken and the teenager he rescued at Zinkwazi beach (Supplied)

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Durban - A KwaZulu-Natal lifeguard, who saved a teenager on the brink of drowning in the surf off Zinkwazi on the north coast in the early hours of Thursday morning, has revealed how close he too came to death.

Now, just hours after saving a life, Luke McCracken, 20, was back on duty watching the beaches. 

At around 04:00, he was roused from sleep by someone banging on the door of his cabin.

"I answered and they told me that their friend was drowning. I got in my car and raced to the beach," he told News24.

"I had no equipment with me, so I ran to the lifeguard hut and found a Malibu [a rescue raft] behind it. I gripped it and ran to the point where his friends said he was seen last and got in the water," he said.

In the pitch dark, McCracken pushed through the surf in the rip current towards the backline.

Once past the breakers, the Malibu began to sink.

"I released it had a hole in the bottom. I thought I was going to die there as well," he said.

Struggling to keep the craft afloat, McCracken said a swathe of water had been illuminated by a flare.

"Something just told me to move towards where the flare had dropped and I was just screaming the guy’s name, and then I heard him. I saw him and then when I got to him, I let him rest on the Malibu because he was cramping," he said.

"I managed to get him onto the Malibu and then started pushing towards the shore through the rip. When we got to the breakers, the Malibu sank and then I had to pull him quite a way back in. The closest to get to the beach was on the rocks and I managed to get him out," the soft-spoken lifeguard said.

"He was stoked," McCracken quipped.

"I don’t know what to think and it’s surreal for me. What I went through in the middle of the ocean, I also thought I was going to die out there. I think I saved his life and I’m glad he’s still with us," he said.

Read more on:    durban  |  drownings  |  good news

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