St Pats student rescues drowning girl

HERO, rescuer, life saver. 

These are not words St Patrick’s College student Jackson Smith-Hillier may have thought to hear about himself two weeks ago.

However, when a 17-year-old girl found herself in danger of drowning at Frankston Beach earlier this month, instinct kicked in for the 15-year-old year 10 student.

Jackson was at the beach at 9.30pm on a Saturday when he heard screaming from two girls. 

He waded into the water to rescue a girl, reached her about 250 metres offshore and then,  battling the current and cold temperatures, kept her afloat for an hour and a half.

With help from another swimmer and a police officer, the girl was revived twice. 

She was taken to Frankston Hospital and released the following day.

“I wasn’t thinking about my own safety,” Jackson admitted yesterday.

“It still hasn’t sunk in. Before it happened, I wouldn’t have known (I was capable) of doing it. You just do it.

“I nearly collapsed when I got out of the water. I don’t think I’ve ever been that tired before.

“When they told me how long I was out there, I was surprised.

“It felt longer than that.”

Jackson boards at St Patrick’s College, but comes from the other side of Melbourne. He 

had moved with his family to Frankston South from Cranbourne that weekend.

While the girl was being brought back to shore, the police constable noticed she had stopped breathing and administered mouth-to-mouth resuscitation while still in the water. He directed Jackson and the other rescuer to swim to shore.

When the officer reached the shore with the girl he again applied CPR until paramedics arrived. 

Inspector Bruce Wemyss, of Frankston police, praised the actions of Jackson, the police 

officer and the other swimmer.

“This situation could have ended tragically if not for the initial actions of the two male  witnesses,” Inspector Wemyss said.

“I also commend the efforts of the responding police officer who, knowing time was of the essence, entered the water immediately with risk to his own safety in order to protect a life.”

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