Filipino driver risks life to rescue elderly Saudi from drowning

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Dawood Balindong who risked his life to rescue an elderly Saudi who was trapped inside his car in a flooded street in Abruq Al-Righama in east Jeddah Tuesday morning.



Saudi Gazette

JEDDAH
— “I was not afraid of death,” Dawood S. Balindong said in broken Arabic when asked why he decided to sacrifice his own life to rescue a Saudi man who was caught in the middle of the floodwater Tuesday morning.

Okaz Organization for Press and Publications honored the 37-year-old Filipino house driver for his courage and presence of mind.

Balindong, who saved an elderly Saudi from drowning, was the hot topic in Jeddah Tuesday.

However, Balindong said he did not deserve the honor because he did nothing more than his duty toward a fellow human being.

The elderly Saudi man was trapped inside his car in the middle of rushing rainwater in a street in Abruq Al-Righama in east Jeddah while a large crowd of people simply stood watching.

“Some people tried to deter me from swimming to reach the man in distress. They kept shouting that the Civil Defense would soon come to save him but I did not heed their calls,” he said.

When Balindong reached the man, he offered his hands for him to jump in. He took the man in his hands and swam all the way to safety on the dry side of the road.

His action brought back the memories of Pakistani national Farman Ali Khan who lost his life saving people trapped in the 2009 floods that devastated Jeddah. In appreciation of his courage, a street in Jeddah was named after Farman.

Bystanders videotaped Balindong saving the elderly Saudi. The video quickly went viral on social media. Some of them said this was the least they could do to honor the Filipino for his exceptional courage.

When Saudi Gazette asked Balindon whether he feared for his life even for a brief moment before going down into the water to save the Saudi man, he answered: “I could not stand watching a man drowning without doing anything to save him and there was no time to think of death”.

He said he had no idea he would be honored for his action, which was spontaneous and dictated by his human instinct.

“To me the issue has ended right there and then. I had no idea many people would commend what I had done let alone that I would be honored for it,” he said.

Balindong said he swam directly toward the man not heeding the warnings by the bystanders or listening to their advice that the Civil Defense divers would come and save him.

Balindong, who hails from Pagadian city of Mindano province in the Philippine, has been working in Jeddah for a year and a month. He had worked earlier in Jubail.

The Civil Defense apologized to the public that two of its staff who were at the scene would not jump into the water to save the man and said they would be disciplined for their lack of action.


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