Sergeant thanked for rescuing runaway woman

Sgt WestMany men would struggle to stay afloat after taking a kick to the groin, but Sergeant Graham West not only continued swimming, he managed to rescue a woman determined to fight off his assistance 400m out to sea.Today his efforts will be recognised with an Australian Commendation for Brave Conduct.It was April 16, 2007, when a woman escaped police custody and attempted to take her own life by jumping into Wollongong Harbour and swimming out to sea.The then Leading Senior Constable West was known for competing in Iron Man races and was called to help in the rescue.”She ended up with the tide going out and went 400m off the harbour,” he said.A fishing trawler which was pulling into the harbour took police officers out to the woman and Sgt West dived in.However the woman violently resisted his attempts to rescue her.”She fought me for probably 20 minutes,” he said. “I was more worried about getting bitten by a shark.”I paddle out there quite a bit and I know there’s a big shark population out there.”When she kicked me the first time I actually thought that was a shark.”Despite his fear about what swam beneath, Sgt West continued to struggle with the woman.”I got kicked a few times in the groin which slowed me down a bit,” he said.After repeated attempts to load her on to a lifeguard’s jetski, the exhausted woman was restrained from leaping back into the ocean and taken ashore.”I was exhausted by then and I couldn’t pull myself into the fishing trawler,” he said.His fellow officers hauled him, slightly embarrassed, from the water: during the struggle, Sgt West had lost his clothing.A few days later, the woman’s husband came to the police station to thank Sgt West for saving his wife.”She was obviously someone’s mum, someone’s wife,” he said. “You don’t really think with stuff like this you just go and do it.”I made sure we got her back that’s the best thing about it, she’s home.”Sgt West’s bravery that day has also been recognised with a police award and a Royal Humane Society bronze medal.”Police do things like this a lot and don’t get recognised,” he said. “I worked in the tactical unit and did dangerous things a lot.”For information on mental illness call Lifeline on 131 114 or log on to www.beyondblue南京夜网.au.
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