Teen Risked His Life To Save Many Off Marina Beach
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CHENNAI: It’s a job in which the call of duty normally entails a difficult choice between life and death. Not for Venkatesh. The 18-year-old lifeguard has always risked his life to save those who love the high tides so much, they’ve all but given up the ghost for them.
Venkatesh has rescued so many swimmers from drowning off Marina Beach in the past three years that he’s lost count of the people he’s saved. But policemen with whom he works believe the number is well over 100.
The Class 9 dropout, who lives in Chintadripet, spends his day patrolling the beach with policemen. When they spot someone in distress, Venkatesh dives right into the turbulent waters that make Marina one of the deadliest beaches in the country.
Out fishing with friends in a boat three years ago, Venkatesh saw a college student struggling in the water. “His friends were crying out for help,” he said. “I quickly dived in and pulled him out alive,” Venkatesh said.
Venkatesh, who earns his living by working with audio systems at weddings and other functions, is well known to policemen who patrol the beach.
“Most people I save don’t thank me. They run away as soon as they recover,” Venkatesh said. But Praveen Kumar, a college student from Perambur, visits Venkatesh whenever he’s in the locality. “Venkatesh gave me a new life,” Praveen said. “I thought I would never see the world again when a huge tidal wave dragged me out to sea,” he said. “Just as I was going to lose consciousness, I felt a hand pulling me by my hair. Within minutes we were on the shore,” he said.
Venkatesh, who was born on the Marina’s shore, says he can judge the depth of water by its colour. “Youngsters say with pride that they are good swimmers,” Venkatesh said. “But it does not matter whether someone is a perfect swimmer or not — anyone can drown.”
Venkatesh helps police recover bodies dragged out to sea and does not hesitate to haul in decomposing bodies. “Bringing in a body is simpler than rescuing someone who is alive,” he said. “People are in a panic and struggle when you try to save them. There is always the chance that you’ll go under too.”
Venkatesh does the job without expecting anything in return, says Anna Square police inspector V Karnan. The sea near Marina is extremely dangerous as undercurrents are very strong and waters are turbulent even near the shore, Karnan said, adding, “It’s hard to find someone with the guts to be a lifeguard on Marina.”
Hat’s Off to Venkatesh who proved Service to People is Service to God, Your services are a Divine thing. God Bless You and you will be inspiration to many