Near drowning victim urges lifejacket use

By: Hawke's Bay Regional Council

A Hastings man is urging everyone to wear lifejackets when out on the water after a boating mishap nearly claimed the life of himself and his four year old daughter.

Near drowning victim urges lifejacket use
Near drowning victim urges lifejacket use

Scott Dellow was whitebaiting at Haumoana when he attempted to cross the lagoon in a kayak with his four year old daughter, without wearing lifejackets. His plan was to go fishing on the other side where his adult son already was.

"It's strange because I had a nagging feeling in the back of my mind that I shouldn't be doing this, but the lagoon looked so calm so I thought we'll be right, but we weren't," says Mr Dellow.

As he was crossing, the kayak capsized tipping them both out. Mr Dellow managed to hang onto his daughter and, with assistance from his son, they were rescued but the kayak was swept out through the channel and lost at sea.

Mr Dellow says there is no doubt that, without his son's help, he and his daughter would have drowned.

"I am very experienced in the water and have to admit I was really surprised about how quickly I was caught out on that day and how easily it could have turned into tragedy. We owe our lives to my son."

"It has been a huge lesson for me that I will never forget. I look at my daughter now and think I could have lost her that day, just because we didn't wear lifejackets."

Scott Dellow was interviewed by the Hawke's Bay Regional Council staff when the incident occurred and it was decided to use the near-tragedy as an opportunity to get the message out about wearing lifejackets.

HBRC Harbourmaster Phil Norman says this is a classic example of why Hawke's Bay has new navigational bylaws requiring everyone in craft driven by paddles or oars to wear a lifejacket.

"The water can catch you out - wearing lifejackets gives people buoyancy if they end up in the water unexpectedly, and a lot better chance of survival," says Captain Norman.

"Mr Dellow's experience highlights something we have always contended - even if the water looks calm, it can be deceptive and to underestimate it can be fatal."

Mr Dellow says he hasn't been out in the water since and has definitely learnt his lesson. He will be buying lifejackets for his family before he takes to the water again.

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