Police officer on leave saves woman from wrecked car in Akaroa harbor

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Tony Maw rescues a woman who crashed her car in the French port of Akaroa on Monday afternoon.

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Tony Maw saves a woman who crashed her car in the French port of Akaroa on Monday afternoon.

The last time Chief Constable Tony Maw had to perform a water rescue was 28 years ago in a police college swimming pool.

But on Monday, the veteran North Canterbury cop broke his drought. After enjoying a bike ride on his day off, he was passing through Akaroa when he spotted what appeared to be a car submerged in the French port.

“[It] had left the boat launch and … sort of turned a bit and could see [woman] inside, ”Maw said.

The car sank shortly after the rescue.  Emergency services can be seen on the shore behind.

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The car sank shortly after the rescue. Emergency services can be seen on the shore behind.

“She sounded callous and I was a little worried about that.”

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Maw’s training quickly started. He took off his clothes, jumped into the water and swam to the car, about 20 meters offshore.

When he arrived, the doors were locked. The woman was still inside and the car was quickly filling with water.

Onlookers watch the car as it floats under a jetty in Akaroa.

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Onlookers watch the car as it floats under a jetty in Akaroa.

“Someone shouted [that] the passenger side window was down, so I swam on that side, ”Maw said.

“It was starting to fill with water at this point and she kind of met me at the window.”

Maw got the woman out of the car and swam with her back to shore where she was helped by paramedics from St John and the rescue helicopter from Canterbury Westpac.

Maw then dried off and headed to his accommodation for the night.

A Westpac rescue helicopter transported the woman to Christchurch hospital.

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A Westpac rescue helicopter transported the woman to Christchurch hospital.

Talk to Thing after the rescue he said he expected anyone to do the same if he saw the car sink.

“[I] don’t want to make a big deal out of it. I was there and it was cool and if I didn’t [have] maybe someone else would have.

“You do what you do. This is what we are trained to do.

The incident occurred in French Harbor, near Balguerie Street in Akaroa, shortly before 1:30 p.m. Monday. Police, firefighters, St John’s paramedics and one of Canterbury’s Westpac rescue helicopters all responded.

A spokesperson for Garden City Helicopters said paramedics treated the woman before she was airlifted to Christchurch hospital.

A spokeswoman for Fire and Emergency New Zealand (Fenz) said an Akaroa crew used a rope to tow the vehicle from the water near the Daly’s boat launch.

A police spokesperson said police were investigating the circumstances of the crash.


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