Tourist Dies Trying to Save Drowning Mayor

Michigan mayor survives, is rescued by 2nd man
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 6, 2015 3:29 PM CST
Tourist Dies Trying to Save Drowning Mayor
File photo of a boogie board on a beach.   (Shutterstock)

A crazy story equal parts tragic and heroic out of St. Croix in the Virgin Islands: A Danish tourist died trying to save a Michigan mayor who was being swept away by a riptide, but the mayor then got saved by a second Good Samaritan. The rescued man is South Lyon Mayor Tedd Wallace, a 63-year-old retired teacher who was boogie-boarding while on vacation, reports hometownlife. When he ran into trouble and began calling for help, a man identified as Svenv Hill-Matson, thought to be about 70, swam to him. "When he got to me we were both hanging on to the board and trying to paddle towards shore," Wallace tells the Detroit News. "I don't think we even said anything to each other. Suddenly he let go and went under. I think he had a heart attack right then."

Wallace then started getting battered into rocks—"I was bleeding all over the place"—when a 30-year-old local named Bale Shbaka Kaza heard his cries for help and came to the rescue. He climbed down rocks to the water and pulled Wallace to safety. It was too late to save Matson, who was in St. Croix with his wife celebrating the 50th anniversary of their first kiss. "She was strong and elegant and all I could say to her was that I was sorry and that I wished I could remember his last words," Wallace recalls. "She said: 'I understand. That's enough for me.'" Wallace gave his boogie board to Kaza's young son and doesn't plan to get another. (Read more hero stories.)

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