Hero saves mum and boy from rip

Kate FieldingSouth Western Times
Dalyellup's Samantha Russell says it was a surprise to be told she would be receiving a Commendation for Brave Conduct as part of the Australian Bravery Awards.
Camera IconDalyellup's Samantha Russell says it was a surprise to be told she would be receiving a Commendation for Brave Conduct as part of the Australian Bravery Awards. Credit: Kate Fielding / South Western Times

Samantha Russell did not think twice about jumping into cold water at Dalyellup Beach to help a woman and her 10-year-old son who were caught in a rip.

On the morning of July 8, 2015, Miss Russell heard screams and without hesitation jumped in the water, swam about 15m and managed to pull the woman to the side of the rip.

She then swam back to the boy and placed him on her shoulders before swimming back to the woman and getting her to hold onto her arm as she swam them both back to the safety of the shore.

Miss Russell was just 15 years old.

For her heroic actions, Miss Russell will today receive a Commendation for Brave Conduct from Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove as part of the Australian Bravery Awards.

“It was a bit of a surprise, I got a letter in the mail a couple months ago that I got the award and I wasn’t able to tell anyone,” a now 19-year-old Miss Russell told the South Western Times.

“It was totally unexpected.”

It is clear to see how the outcome of that day four years ago could have been so much different with Miss Russell the only other person on the beach on a cold, wintry day.

With no actual lifesaving experience, Miss Russell had also only recently obtained her bronze medallion.

“I was collecting sand for a science project in high school and I heard these people screaming and then I went in,” she said.

“I wasn’t planning on swimming at all because it was winter, I was only there to collect sand samples and I was only close to the water because I needed the wet sand.

“Absolutely nothing went through my mind until I was in the water, then I was like ‘what am I doing, now I’m in this rip, great’ but then I just kept on going.

“It was just a weird experience.”

Miss Russell is modest about her brave and heroic actions.

“I don’t think that I’m a hero, I feel like a lot of people – if they were in my position – would do the same thing,” she said.

Miss Russell is among 73 people and groups across the country being recognised today with Australian Bravery Decorations for displaying courage and bravery to protect or defend others.

As Miss Russell prepares to start a commerce degree at university in Bunbury, she said she thought about that day often, especially when swimming.

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