A HEROIC Senegalese man who rescued a drowning swimmer on a Malaga beach in February has been tracked down.
Mamadou, a 19-year-old asylum applicant who arrived in Spain after a terrifying boat journey to the Canary Islands two years ago, was the first to get into the water on Malagueta beach when a man started crying for help.
“At first it looked like this man was just doing the backstroke,” English tourist Susan Haghegh, 68, told the Olive Press.
“He was making noises and I thought he might have just been messing around.
“Then I started to think he was in trouble, but no one else was paying any attention. The deckchair gentleman even told me the swimmer was fine.”
However, once Mamadou, who was selling bags and hats on the beach at the time, realised that the swimmer, a Spanish man of 45, was in trouble, he went into action.
“This Senegalese man stripped off, did a sign of the cross and then went in and rescued him,” Susan continued.
But Mamadou, still traumatised from the sea crossings he had made coming to Europe and the friends who had died in the process, was not a strong swimmer.
After swimming out in freezing cold water to where the Spanish man was and bringing him closer to shore, Mamadou himself got into trouble.
A Canadian and a Dutch tourist went into the sea to help Mamadou and the Spanish man the final way.
Finally everyone was back on dry land as a crowd had gathered to help and clap the heroes.
Both Mamadou and the Spanish man were suffering from hypothermia, having swallowed quantities of sea water.
“I realised something was wrong because people were looking at the water, as if they were worried,” Mamadou told Diariosur.
“When I saw what was happening, I knew I had to do something. In my heart, it was impossible not to help.”
He did not want the swimmer to suffer the same fate as so many who had drowned trying to reach Spain.
Both men were taken to separate hospitals, but Mamadoh was discharged several hours later.
His asylum application has still yet to be approved, and so he finds himself in limbo while he waits, unable to train and work in catering as he dreams.