Gisborne paramedic rescues boy in Napier-Taihape incident

Shane Clapperton is amid the white water on the far side of the river, and he has nearly reached the boy trapped on the ledge. A man on the right is feeding a line out to Clapperton. Picture supplied

GISBORNE St John intensive care paramedic and territory manager Shane Clapperton jumped into a fast-flowing river in the Napier-Taihape area yesterday to help a frightened young boy trapped on a rock face.

The ECT rescue helicopter was called in, with Mr Clapperton on board, to assist in the emergency at around 2pm yesterday.

The Lowe Corporation rescue helicopter from Hawke’s Bay was unavailable.

“The boy, aged 10 or 11, had somehow got on to a rock face alongside the swiftly-flowing Ngararoa River at a camping area on the Napier-Taihape Road,” Mr Clapperton said.

“He was trapped there and was too frightened to jump back into the river and swim the 15 metres to safety.”

Concerned family members activated an emergency locator beacon to get help.

“We landed the chopper on the river bed and I swam across to him. I took some rope with me, and made a harness out it that I fitted on to the boy. Then I swam back to the other bank.

“We tied some more rope together then I swam back across,” Mr Clapperton said.

“I attached the length of rope to the boy’s harness, helped him into the water and the rescuers on the other bank hauled him back to the other side, and safety.”

“My biggest worry was my underpants might get washed off as I swam the river. So I had to borrow a pair of women’s shorts and wore those over the top. Fortunately the shorts worked.”

Mr Clapperton said the boy was none the worse for wear for his experience.

“He was as good as gold.”

GISBORNE St John intensive care paramedic and territory manager Shane Clapperton jumped into a fast-flowing river in the Napier-Taihape area yesterday to help a frightened young boy trapped on a rock face.

The ECT rescue helicopter was called in, with Mr Clapperton on board, to assist in the emergency at around 2pm yesterday.

The Lowe Corporation rescue helicopter from Hawke’s Bay was unavailable.

“The boy, aged 10 or 11, had somehow got on to a rock face alongside the swiftly-flowing Ngararoa River at a camping area on the Napier-Taihape Road,” Mr Clapperton said.

“He was trapped there and was too frightened to jump back into the river and swim the 15 metres to safety.”

Concerned family members activated an emergency locator beacon to get help.

“We landed the chopper on the river bed and I swam across to him. I took some rope with me, and made a harness out it that I fitted on to the boy. Then I swam back to the other bank.

“We tied some more rope together then I swam back across,” Mr Clapperton said.

“I attached the length of rope to the boy’s harness, helped him into the water and the rescuers on the other bank hauled him back to the other side, and safety.”

“My biggest worry was my underpants might get washed off as I swam the river. So I had to borrow a pair of women’s shorts and wore those over the top. Fortunately the shorts worked.”

Mr Clapperton said the boy was none the worse for wear for his experience.

“He was as good as gold.”

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