As strong waves crashed onto Malta’s coastline over the weekend, a Sliema resident found himself caught in yesterday morning’s currents. Eastern winds caused waves to batter the area around Fond Ghadir, where the 45-year-old had chosen to take a quick dip to beat the early morning heat.
However, conditions changed rather quickly for the swimmer who found difficulties in returning to shore on the rocky beach once the currents had strengthened. Although the incident took place around 9am, lifeguards were not yet present on the beach.
Luckily for the man, two members of staff from nearby restaurant Il-Gabbana were at the scene and jumped in to help
Italian-born barista Alex Zanandrea and waiter Milan Vasović of Bosnian heritage rose to the occasion and headed into the water to help the injured man. The two workers were joined by a customer named only as Mitch.
After Milan had heard the screams for help while working above the beach, he ran to take a look over the promenade. Seeing what was going on, he ran down to the shoreline along with Mitch and leapt into the water to help. By this time, the man had taken in too much water into his lungs and passed out.
With Milan and Mitch braving the waves to try and drag the man out, Alex realised they needed more help. He ran down to the waters, stripped off his uniform and dove straight in.
The man was successfully dragged out of the rough sea and placed onto the rocks. He was unresponsive for the entire duration the men had spent in the water. Once he was out, a woman on the beach approached the guys and advised they perform CPR.
Alex and Mitch both tried for a few minutes each and eventually the woman was able to hear air in his lungs again. A few turns of the body and he was finally breathing on his own again. By this time, another customer had called for help. The ambulance arrived soon after and the man was then taken to hospital.
The man has since been released from hospital after suffering serious injuries from the ordeal. He was given the all-clear this morning and returned to daily life. The stretch of coast alongside Fond Għadir in Sliema has seen a number of fatalities in recent years, after an Indian-native resident had drowned in 2014 and another man drowned after being swept out by currents just around the corner towards Qui-Si-Sana.
Thankfully, Sliema now has two more silent heroes to add to its list.