Coastguard hero Ray Burge risked his life to save two swimmers

On a Sunday evening, off-duty Coastguard Operations Manager Ray Burge was out for a coastal drive with his family. Their peaceful evening took a dramatic turn as Ray spotted a man in the water frantically waving his arms and calling out for help.

Ray leapt out of the car and ran down to the beach. He came across three distraught and crying children who told Ray that their mum was in trouble in the water, and their dad went in to save her. Now their dad was struggling too.

Ray knew he needed to act fast. He called Coastguard for back-up, leapt into the water and started swimming.

Battling heavy seas, the dad had drifted 200 metres from shore when Ray reached him. Fierce winds made the sea churn and massive waves towered above them both. The man was panicking and fighting to keep his head above water. Ray tried his best to calm him down and held his chin above water to begin the challenging swim back to shore.

It took all the strength Ray had to hold the man with one arm and swim back.

At long last, Ray saw the beach. He staggered to the shore with the man in his arms, and gently laid him on the sand in the recovery position. The man had swallowed a lot of water and was not in a good way.

Ray knew that mum was still out to sea. He saw Coastguard Maraetai approaching and told them where he thought she might be. Losing no time, they leapt into action, and in the distance Ray watched as they pulled her from the water, weak but alive.

It had been a huge ordeal, and when they were finally reunited mum, dad and the kids held each other very tightly.

For Ray and everyone at Coastguard, dropping everything to help someone in trouble is a way of life. Your support means they have the resources they need to be on call 24/7.

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