Former air force man displays bravery and ingenuity in rescue
GEORGE TOWN: He did not even contemplate his own mortality â" his only concern was for the woman struggling in the waters below the second Penang bridge as ocean currents threatened to sweep her away.
Bridge patrolman Zaidi Salleh, 52, was well aware how perilous ocean currents were and knew the folly of jumping into the waters below unaided.
In a moment of ingenuity, he emptied a jerrycan he had with him to use as a makeshift flotation device, lashed it to his waist and rappelled down to the woman with a towing strap.
Upon reaching her, Zaidi held on to her as ocean currents swept them both away from the bridge into open water.
Zaidi, who was once attached to the Handau (Royal Malaysian Air F orce Ground Defence Regiment), said they were at the mercy of currents for 40 harrowing minutes before they were rescued by fishermen.
"We both held on to the jerrycan but it could not support both of us," said Zaidi.
Heroically, he forewent all regard for his own life and gave the jerrycan to the woman.
"I had to stay afloat on my own. I told her to stay strong and life is precious," he recalled.
His immediate superior, Jambatan Kedua Sdn Bhd (JKSB) traffic safety manager Zaini Hashim, said the jerrycan Zaidi used is usually filled with water to help drivers with overheated cars, likewise the towing strap.
Netizens were united in praise for Zaidi's heroics.
Facebook user Tommy Lee noted that it was not easy to swim fully clothed with boots, while holding someone up in the water.
Steven Lim said more Good Samaritans like him were needed, saying; "Salute! He should be given a medal!".
Haidir Ha shim said Zaidi should be awarded with a "police of the year" medal or its equivalent.
Mohamed Khamis said the man was a real hero.
"Syabas! (well done)," he said.
Footage of the Zaidi and the woman being retrieved, ostensibly taken by a fisherman in the boat, has since gone viral.
Those in need of a sympathetic ear can call the Befrienders in the Klang Valley (03-7956 8145) and Penang (04-281 5161/281 1108). They can also e-mail email@example.com.
Read the whole story in the main section of The Star on Thursday (April 19).
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