Lifeguard Simon Lewis Forced To Refuse Migrant Baby At Sea
Australian lifeguard Simon Lewis is opening up about not being able to help a Syrian mother pleading with him to rescue her baby while on a rescue mission on the Mediterranean sea. Lewis, who joined authorities on the Greek island of Lesbos for rescue operations, explained that they have been faced with hundreds of refugees fleeing Syria.
Australian lifeguard Simon Lewis recently sat down for an emotional interview where he talked about having the difficult choice between saving a Syrian baby or faced criminal charges. Lewis almost faced a similar situation like the tragic events that lead to the death of Alan Kurdi, a three-year-old boy, who was found lying face-down on a beach near Turkey.
Strangely enough, moved by the images of Kurdi’s body, Lewis, who is the director of St Kilda Life Saving Club in Melbourne, became a member of International Surf Lifesaving Association, an organization that gathers professional surf lifesavers to help Greek lifesavers. On January 3, Lewis began his first shift where he was supposed to meet the rest of his team and take part in a training exercise, but a double-decker ferry was carrying 200 asylum seekers and appeared on the shores.
Moments after Lewis and his colleagues helped the first group of passengers from the first boat on shore; another one appeared on the horizon with about 40 refugees on board. In that vessel was a desperate mother, who tried to hand over/toss her baby to Lewis, who was in a rescue boat. He said it was very hard to refuse to take the child, and added:
“Within 45 minutes, I have a boat of 200 people coming straight for us,” Lewis said. “To stand there and look at the boat up close in the water and then be handed a child and pass it on to a French lifeguard, an Italian lifeguard … It was like, ‘Did that just happen?’.”
The boat carrying the mother and child was in Turkish waters, and they were trying to get to the Greek island of Lesbos and reach the European Union. If Lewis caught the baby and took it back to Lesbos, he knew he could be charged with smuggling for carrying the baby across the border. Lewis confessed:
“And she looked at me like that.Those eyes. And you know, she stared me down, and I will never forget that moment. We broke this poor lady’s heart — I broke this poor lady’s heart. You know, not receiving her baby in the middle of the Aegean Sea.”
More than 660,000 refugees arrived in Greece in 2015 and about 700 people have drowned trying to cross into Europe. There has been no tragedy on the seven boats Lewis and his team have shepherded across the Aegean Sea.
What are your thoughts on what lifeguard Simon Lewis did?