2 Apr 2016

Policeman strips off to save teen stranded at sea

7:53 pm on 2 April 2016

A policeman who dived into Otago Harbour to rescue a teenager whose yacht had capsized says he was just doing what any other officer would do.

Constable Rhys Davidson

Constable Rhys Davidson Photo: Supplied

Constable Rhys Davidson spotted the 15-year-old, who was about 100 metres off Portobello, around 9.30 this morning.

He stripped to his underwear and swam through rough seas to the teen, who was clinging to his upturned boat.

Constable Davidson said it certainly wasn't summer-time conditions, with metre-high waves breaking over his head as he swam out.

He said the teenager was beginning to cramp when he arrived and was pretty uncomfortable.

"It wouldn't have been too much longer that he would've been in the water before getting into some serious trouble."

Constable Davidson then talked to the teen, providing reassurance until a rescue boat arrived.

"I said look I'm a police officer, apologised for not having my notebook and pen with me to get his details and then told him a motorised boat was on its way to get us all to shore so just to hang on and we'd be all right."

A member of the public, who was wearing a wetsuit, also swam out to help.

The 15-year-old sailor has been treated for mild hypothermia.

Constable Davidson said his arrival was timely.

"I just happened to be the unit there, there's any number of cops that would have done the same thing, it's just I got there first."

He was only momentarily aware of his state of undress.

"It's something that had crossed my mind briefly - excuse the pun.

"The jobs we do there could be any number of situations, sounds silly to say, where I'm required to be in my underpants, so yeah, always wear your good undies."