The father of a boy who was rescued after passersbys joined police to form a human chain to pull him from heavy surf in Napier yesterday says he cannot believe how close his son was to dying.
Josh McQuiod, 12, had been playing with a friend by the water's edge along Marine Parade when he was swept out to sea just before 5pm.
He was dragged 150 metres along the beach and fought for air for eight minutes.
His father said after seeing footage of his son's rescue he "couldn't believe how close he had come to you know, actually dying".
This was reiterated by Josh, who told ONE News: "When I was in there. I thought I was going to die.
"The waves smashed me so much, there were five really big ones, they flipped me around quite a few times, I was underwater."
At times the boy was underwater for up to 20 seconds at a time and fading fast.
He said it was "like being in a washing machine you know, just boom, boom, boom".
Several attempts to rescue the boy were made but neither a German tourist or police officers were able to hold on to him in the heavy swell.
Eventually a police officer told those nearby to form a human chain to anchor the officer to the shore, allowing him to manhandle the boy to safety.
One woman who watched the drama unfold from the beach said: "It was amazing to watch and a huge relief to see the boy brought to shore. I really think if the police had not arrived at the scene so quickly he would have drowned."
The boy was unresponsive, physically spent, and could not move unaided when he made it to the beach, members of the public gave him first aid.
"I'd love to thank them so much for what they did, they saved my life, if it wasn't for them I'd be dead," he said.
The boy was taken to Hawke's Bay Hospital by ambulance but has since being discharged.
Josh is one of the lucky ones - 11 people have drowned at beaches this summer, and last year one person drowned in a rescue attempt.
Josh and his dad returned to the scene today to urge all beach-goers to learn from his brush with death.
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