Sydney surfer Andrew Bau has finally been able to meet and thank his rescuers, eight months after being pulled from the surf unconscious.
Port Macquarie residents Ted Strong, 15 and Will Pamplin, 16, had just “literally arrived” at Cronulla beach to compete in a surf boat carnival.
“We heard people screaming and yelling at us because they thought we were lifeguards underneath the tower,” Ted said.
The teenagers thought they were being yelled out for doing “something wrong” until they saw someone face down in the water.
Ted, who was in his first season as a bronze member, said he and Will were nervous at first but knew they could help.
“We just took our clothes off as we were running in and we just swam as fast as I could out,” he said.
“It was pretty scary off the bat but it was alright once I got in and he survived which is good.”
The teenagers managed to get Mr Bau to the sand, where two off-duty paramedics happened to be and performed CPR.
Now recovered from his near-death experience, the 57-year-old father was keen to meet his rescuers face to face.
A medical ban on driving after his experience had prevented him from doing so before now.
“It’s been long anticipated and it’s also contradictory in a way because they were the first responders on scene but may be the last people that I’ve been able to get to meet face to face,” Mr Bau said.
He had only had contact with the boys through their mothers prior to his visit where he also presented the boys their Surf Life Saving Australia rescue medals.
He said he came to Port Macquarie and Bonny Hills without any expectations of what was going to happen.
“For me it was just a journey to come and say thanks,” he said.
Before meeting the boys, the only image Mr Bau had of them was a photo in his local newspaper of them standing on the beach at the carnival.
“The boys have grown in size, height and maturity,” Mr Bau said.
Mr Bau said he didn’t want those who saved him to think that what they did on the day was not appreciated or acknowledged.
“But for me getting the chance to go back and talk with them and say that I don’t have brain damage, to say I don’t have broken ribs, I don’t have internal organ damage and that what you trained [for] and what you applied in my case worked, so that was certainly, I think, helpful for me and certainly good for them,” he said.
Ted said he was a bit nervous to meet Mr Bau because he didn’t know what to say to him.
“Hopefully I’ll be friends with him forever,” he said.
“It’s really good to see that he’s fit and healthy and living life to the full.”
Mr Bau hoped to stay in touch.
“Not that the boys know yet, but I think that there could be a surprise show at the 18th and at the 21sts and all of those wonderful things that they have in front of them,” he said.