18-year-old Okinawan rescues Korean university student

18-year-old Daito Sakihama from Yomitan received a certificate of appreciation from the Kunigami Fire Department on Aug. 29. Sakihama was cited for rescuing a Korean university student who was drowning at the Tanaga-gumui waterfall in Aha, Kunigami Village, on Aug. 3.

According to a fire department spokesman, Sakihama had been on a picnic on the shore of the waterfall pond, when he heard someone shouting for help, and saw a man in distress and obviously about to drown in the middle of the pond under the waterfall. Sakihama then jumped into the pond and swam some 20 meters to reach the drowning man. Ha managed to grab his arm, although the man had already sunk underwater and pulled to man to the shore. Once on the shore the man quickly recovered and was not in need of hospitalization.

The drowning man is a Korean student at the University of the Ryukyus, who explained that he had came to the waterfall for leisure with his friends, but had suffered a cramp on his leg while swimming.

The center spot of the Tanaga-gumui pond is very deep, and the place is also remote, and difficult for a rescue team to reach. The Kunigami Fire Department spokesman said that the Korean student was really lucky, because the site is remote and very difficult for a rescue team to reach. He added that this was the first time someone has been rescued from drowning at the waterfall.

Morihiro Oyakawa, the chief of the Kunigami Fire Department said that “It’s not easy to save an adult man who is about to drown. That’s why the way Sakihama was able to rescue the man, and his courage are so great.”