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Former Dubai expat launches search for man he saved from drowning 25 years ago

Dhanusha Gokulan (Principal Correspondent)/Dubai
dhanusha@khaleejtimes.com Filed on August 5, 2020 | Last updated on August 6, 2020 at 12.00 am
Former, Dubai expat, launches, search, man, saved, drowning, 25 years ago
A British man who used to live in Dubai has taken to social media to find a man he rescued from drowning off the coast of Jumeirah Beach nearly 25 years ago.-Supplied photo

James Freestone thinks the young man he saved and his father may have been of Caucasian descent.

A British man who used to live in Dubai has taken to social media to find a man he rescued from drowning off the coast of Jumeirah Beach nearly 25 years ago. He could remember that moment as if it happened yesterday - and, now, he just wanted to know if that young man he pulled ashore was doing fine today.

James Freestone, a senior MEP commissioning manager who lived and worked in Dubai sometime between 1995 and 1997, posted on the nostalgic online community 'Dubai-The good old days' on Facebook, saying: "I am looking to contact the man I saved from drowning off Jumeirah Beach in Dubai. The incident happened in 1996 or 1997."

Recalling the incident over the phone, Freestone, who currently resides in Muscat, Oman, told Khaleej Times: "I think it happened around Christmas time of 1996 or 97. The Burj Al Arab was still under construction, and I had gone body surfing about 4km away from the hotel towards Jebel Ali."

While he was surfing, he realised that the water turned 'erratic' and he almost drowned from exhaustion while trying to ride the waves.

"I managed to get back in after some struggling, and a part of me did consider walking down the beach and telling people to stay out of the water," he said.

A couple of minutes later, Freestone noticed a few young men get out of the water - and one of them was waving at another person who was approximately 30 to 40m away from the coast.

His instinct told him it was a distress wave - so he rushed to his car, got his surfboard, and swam back into the water to rescue him.

"The man I saved may remember me swimming up to him and asking if he was OK and him replying 'No'. Hearing that reply, I immediately gave him my body-board while keeping my distance to observe he was not a threat to drowning me as well."

Freestone realised the young man was exhausted as he could not hold the board and started sinking. "I initially pulled him up by his arm, and he managed to hug the board, but he was too big to hold it that way, so I switched to pulling him up by his trunks.

"A current was pulling us out to sea, so I first swam him parallel with the beach and, from there, back to shore, constantly reassuring him that the rough sea and crashing waves were helping us back," he added.

When the men finally got to shallow water, Freestone assured him that he was safe and can walk to the beach. "He was unresponsive. With the help of two men, we pulled him out to the beach where I placed him in the recovery position and borrowed a mobile phone to call an ambulance.

"The last time I saw him was when the ambulance was leaving. After which, an older man approached me and asked if I was the person who saved his son. I said I was, he thanked me and took my number, but I never heard from anyone," he said.

Freestone added on his post: "I could not stop crying as the enormity of what I had just done sank in, even now, a quarter of a century later, I still well up thinking of that day."

HELP FREESTONE FIND THE YOUNG MAN?

James Freestone thinks the young man he saved and his father may have been of Caucasian descent. "He had an English accent and looked tanned from sun exposure. The man I saved must have been in his late 20s or early 30s (at that time). He had dark hair and dark eyes, and his father had greying dark brown hair," he said.

He hopes that by sharing his story with Khaleej Times, he could be reunited with them. If you are the one whom Freestone saved on that day in 1996 or 1997 - or if it's someone you know - send an e-mail to dhanusha@khaleejtimes.com.

dhanusha@khaleejtimes.com 

author

Dhanusha Gokulan

Originally from India, Dhanusha Gokulan has been working as a journalist for 10 years. She has a keen interest in writing about issues that plague the common person and will never turn down a human interest story. She completed her Bachelor in Arts in Journalism, Economics and English Literature from Mangalore University in 2008. In her spare time, she dabbles with some singing/songwriting, loves travelling and Audible is her favourite mobile application. Tweet at her @wordjunkie88





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