John finally gets to thanks Bruce Middleton for saving his life. Photo: Brendan Foster”What the hell are you doing here?”
They were the words Bruce Middleton said to a drowning young boy off the coast off Scarborough in 1962.
By the time he got to the young boy he had already been in the water for almost 15 minutes and was gasping for air.
Mr Middleton dragged the boy’s exhausted little body to shore, before he was whisked away by his brother.
Mr Middleton stood on the sand not knowing a name or anything else about the kid he just plucked from the ocean.
More than five decades later, Mr Middleton wanted to find out what happened to that skinny kid, so he contacted Radio 6PR pleading with anyone who might remember that morning.
A man called John heard the tail end of the interview and decided to ring the radio station.
Despite the pair meeting up, Mr Middleton, now 75, wasn’t convinced it was the boy he saved until he answered one simple question.
“There is one question I’m going to ask you,” he said as he retold the story to Radio 6PR on Wednesday morning.
“What did I say to you when I rescued you?”
“He told me exact the words,” Mr Middleton said.
“He looked me straight in the eyes and said ‘what the hell are you doing here? It can’t be true? It’s so long ago.”
John who was reunited with his rescuer in an emotional interview with Radio 6PR, said he remembers he had about another 30 seconds left before he was dead.
“I was dead,” he said.
“I was gone for all money if it wasn’t for Bruce. I will never forget it. It was quite stressful.”
Remarkably John said he was at peace in the water when he felt a huge arm grab him.
“I was one with nature and I thought why did you do that?” he laughed.
“I often wondered about this guy who saved me, but I thought the chance of finding him was remote.”
Mr Middleton said he and John chatted for hours when they finally were reunited.
“It’s funny, because he said to me, ‘I’ve been looking for you for 50 years’ and I said ‘I have been looking for you for 50 years’,” Mr Middleton said.
Mr Middleton said was desperate to track down John to get “closure”.
“To find out how he got on in life, he could’ve gone anywhere around Australia,” he said.
“I had to find out if he was still alive and how went through life.”
John, now 61, said he didn’t venture back in the water for 20 years and never told his parents or his three kids about that incident.
“It was such a private moment,” he said.
“I’m just happy to meet the man that saved my arse.” Follow WAtoday on Twitter
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