When two thirteen-year-old mates went for an early morning fish recently, the events which occurred over the following couple of hours will most certainly be forever remembered by both the boys and their parents. Local butcher Allan Riddle told me that he had dropped son Caidan and his mate Henry Purtill-Stokes off at the Melrose Avenue entrance to the Bibimulya Wetlands where they were planning to spend some of the morning fishing.
Apparently, without any prior warning, Caidan, who requires regular medication to control regular instances of high blood pressure, ran into the lake and then plunged face down into the rather murky water which is more than one metre deep. After a few moments of believing that Caidan was clowning around, Henry, who by the way is much smaller than his friend, realised the seriousness of the situation and knew that he had to act swiftly to save his mate. He plunged into the lake and, using all his strength as well as that extra boost which is brought on by adrenaline, managed to position himself underneath Caidan, who weighs almost seventy kilograms and would have been much heavier with his wet clothes and force the drowning youth up and back to the shore.
Henry, who does not have a mobile phone but luckily knew the pin number of his friend’s phone, called Caidan’s mum and texted his mother Rachel. Police were first to attend followed closely by QAS paramedics who removed Caidan’s wet clothes and placed him in a special thermal suit to alleviate any hypothermia before transporting him to hospital as a precautionary measure. There have been reports of one woman who, due to being angry with the boys fishing in the reserve, told Henry that he should have just let Caidan drown. Hopefully, this was an incidence of someone saying something that they did not really mean.
Caidan’s mum Wendy and dad Allan have both told me that they are so grateful to both the paramedics and police for their swift response. They also pointed out that if it were not for Henry’s actions on the day, the result may well have been tragic. ‘Henry has shown a level of sense and responsibility that are well beyond his years,’ said Allan. ‘It appears that Caidan had not taken his blood pressure medication and this resulted in him blacking out before stumbling into the water. It was not until Henry had brought him back to the shore that he regained consciousness,’ he added.
Whilst the brave actions of Henry Purtill-Stokes can be regarded as an example of the caring nature shown by both the young and old within our community, his selflessness should not go unrecognised and I have been told that there he will be recommended for a very well deserved bravery award. Division One Councillor Brooke Savige told me that she will be following this through with the appropriate State Government department. ‘Henry has shown that there are many youths within the community who will help when needed and his actions will be noticed by other young people who often learn through example,’ she remarked.