How dramatic ocean rescue sparked lifetime friendship
Greg was sitting on the beach with his family when he saw a man, Charles, struggling in the ocean. What happen next is an extraordinary tale of bravery, strength and mateship. Here is their story.
Charles De Guzman, 42, Ascot
I was 25 and staying with some friends on the Sunshine Coast. We all went for a swim one morning on Mudjimba Beach and that's when everything happened.
We were knee-deep in the water and the next thing we knew, we were stuck in a strong rip. The sand went from underneath us and we were being swept further and further away from the shore. We were all struggling and the waves kept crashing over the top of us. I recall treading water for what felt like eternity, fighting with the sea.
I was getting tired and struggling to breathe, then another wave came over me and I started losing consciousness. I thought that was it for me. I could feel myself going towards the light that everyone associates with death.
I don't remember anything but I was told a man came out to save me and that man was Greg. He had a boogie board and helped me onto it. My other friends managed to escape the worst of it and were OK. Greg helped me back to the beach where a team of lifeguards had come to my rescue. I was given CPR and they got my pulse back. I was flown to Nambour Hospital. I didn't know if I was going to survive. Doctors said I was lucky to be alive.
I owe my life to Greg. About a month later, I went to the surf club where Greg was to thank him for saving my life. He was incredibly humble and kind. From then on, we kept in touch and, over the years, we've become part of each other's families. I see him as a father figure to me. He helped me build up the confidence to get back in the water again. It was about five years before I could swim again, I was so scared. But Greg helped me have this second chance and I wanted to make the most of it.
I took up triathlons to make myself a better swimmer and now I'm really into endurance races.
Greg was willing to risk his life for me, someone he didn't know but knew needed help. He is an angel to me and I will never be able to repay him, not that he would ever let me.
Greg Carson, 56, Yaroomba
It was March 2002 and I was on the beach with my family when I suddenly saw these men in the water. They had run into a rip. Some of them were able to swim back in but there were two who I could see were in trouble. I kept my eye on them but the situation was only getting worse.
There was a mother and baby girl nearby who had a little kickboard. I asked if I could borrow it from them and I used it to paddle out to the boys.
There was one man, Charles, who was not in a good way.
By the time I got to him, he had lost all his energy and he was ready to go under. I gave the kickboard to Charles's mate and a nearby surfer paddled over and gave me his board.
I pulled Charles up onto the surfboard. I think that moment could have saved his life. He had swallowed so much water and was unconscious. I paddled in with Charles and one of the surfers helped his mate in.
We were at a part of the beach that's unpatrolled, in between Mudjimba and Marcoola, and Charles and his friend could have easily had a different ending to their story. But I was in the right place at the right time.
I've been a member of Mudjimba Surf Lifesaving Club for most of my life and used to do patrols as a lifesaver.
My son, who was on the beach with me that day, ran to get help from the surf club. When they arrived, they did CPR on the beach and the rescue choppers took Charles away.
I never thought I'd see or hear from him again. But about a month later, he came to thank me at the surf club.
He was so grateful. We exchanged numbers and we became great friends.
He's almost like a son to me, even though he's a grown man. We regularly talk on the phone and he tells me what he's up to. He thinks he owes me something but he can't think that, he can't be indebted to me the rest of his life. I did what anyone would have done. Saved someone in trouble.
I'm just glad I was there that day and could help save his life.
Originally published as 'I was going toward the light': How dramatic ocean rescue sparked lifetime friendship