A Maltese soldier had a heroic moment yesterday, as he saved two people from drowning while surfing on rough seas at Riviera Bay.
It was supposed to be a relaxing morning for 24-year-old Andrea Galea, second lieutenant with the maritime squadron for the Malta Armed Forces. The sea was rough and red flags had been erected at Riviera Bay to warn bathers not to swim, but it was perfect surfing weather for Galea.
Andrea Galea surfs as a hobby. Photo: Facebook
Speaking to TVM, Galea recounted how, while out surfing, he had spotted a young foreign girl who was struggling to swim back to the shore. He placed her on his surfboard, swam her back to the shore and went back out to continue surfing. However, he soon spotted an overweight man – also foreign – who was caught in a rip current, which was dragging him further away from the shore.
The drowning man grabs onto Andrea Galea’s surfboard
“At first, I didn’t think there was a problem and indeed it is not uncommon for people to escape rip currents,” Galea. “However, when I looked at him more closely I could tell he was tired and he then told me he was drowning. I instantly put his mind at rest that I wouldn’t leave his side, and told him to approach the surfboard’s leg rope.”
“Because he was quite overweight and in a state of panic, I couldn’t approach him to help him up because there was a risk he would cling onto me and sink us both. However, when three waves sunk him underwater, I lost my fear, dived in to grab him and placed him on the board.”
Andrea Galea swims out to rescue the drowning man
This second part of Galea’s rescue was caught on camera, ostensibly through a filming device on the surfboard.
The footage, published by TVM, shows Galea swimming out to save the man and repeatedly telling him to jump on his surfboard, before a lifeguard came and helped him out.
A lifeguard arrives at the scene to help Andrea Galea out
The soldier said he was pleased to have saved two lives but urged bathers to take heed of warning signs on beaches.
“It is not right for people to disregard the rules and endanger the lives of innocent people who have to dive in to save them.”