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On New Year’s day, authorities on the holiday resort island of Koh Samui had raised warning flags advising the public not to swim due that day due to rough seas at Chaweng Noi beach by The Beach Bar. Yet, it seems two Russian tourists in their early 30’s did not notice (or ignored) the warning flags and went for a swim anyway.
Numerous sunbathers watched in horror as the girl and man were being swept out to sea. Long time Koh Samui resident, Mr. Cord Biggs, and three friends quickly went to rescue the two drowning tourists. Instincts of these three expats kicked in.
Cord said, “We were playing beach volleyball about 40 meters from the sea, I spotted a couple swept out to sea – screaming and panicking in the rough waters. No one on the crowded beach was swimming out to rescue them. Myself, Andrea Malvestiti, Johnny Gherardi, and Cristiano Cappellacci ran down from the court and started swimming to them.”
The Beach Bar staff of Samui Beach Club threw them life buoys as they reached the water.
Mr. Biggs continued, “I went for the girl first as she appeared to be in higher danger. Andre came with me and while we were trying to bring her back, her boyfriend was getting swept out further, so I went back after him. While I was bringing him back Andre and the girl started going out further so I had to go back out and get them. Luckily, a surfer came to us as I was struggling and he was able to get her on board to paddle in. It was the worst time for me and ended up tossing the buoys away and digging deep to fight the rips & outsmart the rips to make it in.”
Koh Samui, one of the most beautiful islands in the South Bay of Thailand is well known for its stunning coastlines, warm water and fine sandy beaches. Occasionally though, like many beaches around the world, rip-currents can occur causing water beneath the surface to move away from the shore, especially during the 6-week rainy season.
In the end all rescuers and the couple reached the beach safely. The couple were transported to Thai Inter Hospital by ambulance and made a full recovery.
It’s a lesson to visitors and a tale that has their friends on the island calling them ’authentic heroes’.
Cord’s final words on the incident were “Please watch for the red flags on any beach and if you see those, do not swim. Thanks to my volleyball boys for having my back and good karma for all of us as we start the new year on this January 1st!”