Sandra Tsiligeridu and a group of friends were returning from an excursion to a tiny island called Pserimos, near Kos when a man was spotted in the water. Thinking he was a diver, the group waved and turned the steering of the boat to avoid him.
But Sandra noticed the man was in distress. “I looked at him and he needed help. I immediately screamed to my friend who was driving our boat to turn around, because this man needed help.”
The seas were high— five Beaufort, and it was windy. Together, the Greeks lifted him out of the water and into their boat.
He was shaking and scared so Sandra wrapped towels around him and immediately called the port of Kos to let them know they had rescued a man. She hugged and comforted him the entire way back to port.
Relieved, the port authorities responded that the man’s family had been looking for him.
The man, named Mohamed, departed at 5:00am that day with 40 Syrian refugees and headed for Kos. The seas were rough and the raft— with no motor and only two oars— was no match for the plastic dinghy.
As the story was later shared by those onboard the raft, the waves were huge and knocked one of the oars into the water. Seeing that the entire boat would succumb to the sea with only one oar, Mohamed dove into the water in an attempt to grab the oar so they could continue their journey to Kos.
Darkness and waves led to confusion and Mohamed was distanced from his raft— and family. They did end up throwing him a life vest, which ultimately saved him.
The raft with the 39 refugees arrived on the island of Kos at noon— 7 hours after their journey began at 5am and the family immediately reported Mohamed as missing. The Greek Coast Guard immediately initiated a search and rescue mission which lasted for over five hours but didn’t find Mohamed, presuming that he had drowned.
Then around 6pm after— 13 hours after diving not the sea and losing contact with the dinghy he was on, he was rescued by Sandra and her fellow Greeks.
Sandra said she felt “blessed” that she was able to help Mohamed and reunite him with his family.