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Son saves his father and siblings after their boat capsize

Year 1869, Rev. T. N. Irwin

Read by Peter Dawson – Trustee, Royal Humane Society

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Extract of a letter from the Rev. T. N. Irwin to the Secretary of the Royal Humane Society ; —

“Dear Sir, — Since my return from Switzerland I have intended bringing under the notice of your Committee the brave and unselfish conduct of my eldest son, in wonderfully rescuing his two brothers, my daughter, and myself, when our boat was capsized in a sudden tornado which overtook us on the 22nd August 1868, on Lake Leman, about one mile and a half from Vevey. Truly, had it not been for his courage and presence of mind we must all have perished ; since, though I am an excellent swimmer and boatman from boyhood, I was disabled by a bad sprained wrist previously, and quite exhausted after diving three times in the boiling tempest for my poor wife, who was torn asunder from me by a tremendous billow, after I had brought her to the surface the third time ; and, as I was sinking, my gallant boy, who had dived after his sister, and then his brother, brought and placed them and his second brother, who was paddling to save himself, upon the bottom of our twirling boat, caught hold of me and swam with me to the boat ; however, from the irregular distribution of our bodies, the boat was rolled over by each wave so that he was required to endure similar exhaustion of strength on every whirling of the boat ; and this continued, I was told by the Police Superintendent, for one hour, as we drifted in the almost darkness; five times he dived for his sister and brothers, and once to relieve her crinoline, caught under the boat and dragging her down.”

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