MATT Cairns just wanted to go for a quick swim to cool off before he got married on a sunny Gisborne Saturday.
Instead, he saved the life of a drowning surfer whose hand had been snagged on a fish hook.
The drama unfolded yesterday at 2.30pm when a French tourist was pulled 500m out to sea, apparently drifting out while caught on the long line.
Mike Williams, the father of Matt's bride Joy, says Matt - an experienced life saver from the Waikanae Surf Life Saving Club - was in his togs for a pre-nuptial dip before getting into his tuxedo.
"He'd just gotten back from his swim, he hears the guy screaming and he just plunged in."
After single-handedly pulling the stricken man back to shore without any flotation aid, Matt was only two minutes late for his wedding.
"It didn't throw out the day. A lot of the guests had no idea it'd even happened until family members mentioned it at the reception. It was all in a day's work for Matt.
"Other people were very impressed that he'd managed it. People were talking about it heaps tonight. They mentioned it in their speeches."
The wedding was held at a private property and the reception took place at the Wainui Surf Life Saving Club.
Mike says his daughter wasn't annoyed at her groom for putting his life on the line on such a significant day.
"She wasn't pissed off, she was delighted he'd been able to save the guy. Matt basically got the job done and got back to it."
The hook, embedded between the tourist's thumb and index finger, was surgically removed at Gisborne Hospital.
The man was last night discharged and the reception continued until 1am.
- Herald on Sunday
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