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Tuesday, March 5, 2024
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Daring rescue

Firefighter Laurie Matthews carries a man rescued from the Ruamahanga River at Double Bridges. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

MARCUS ANSELM
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A daring rescue saw two men scooped out of the Ruamahanga River near the Opaki Kaiparoro Rd bridge on Monday.

Emergency services were called just after 2pm when one of the men fell into the river and was left clinging to the bank after the pair got in strife in swollen, fast-running waters.

Fire crews and police officers set up line rescue equipment, with police officers stationed further down the riverbank in case the man let go.

Firefighter Laurie Matthews abseiled down a cliff face on Bluff Rangitumau Rd near the road crossing and scooped him out of the water, and he was then rope-lifted to an ambulance at the top of the cliff.

The second man stayed in a kayak, which was attached to a rubber boat.

He came to a stop about a kilometre downstream, where the Life Flight Westpac Rescue Helicopter found him.

Conditions in the bridge area could be treacherous, Masterton Fire and Emergency duty officer Kevin Smith said.

“We have had people swimming there, in those swollen river conditions after rain in the western hills, and the river rises quite quickly, and we do give the advice not to swim there.

“There is a cave down there where people have got stuck in the past. This guy was pretty fortunate he wasn’t swept into the cave.”

He said he didn’t know how skilled the two men were, but it was not a stretch to take lightly.

“It would be only something you would want to attempt if you had a high level of experience and equipment.”

A man in his 30s was being treated on Monday night in Wairarapa Hospital with suspected hypothermia.

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