A four-year-old girl who drifted out to sea on a unicorn inflatable was “frozen from fear” as she held on for her life, says the hero captain who helped rescue her.
Grigoris Karnesis and his crew were stunned when they spotted the terrified child floating in the water on their route between Rio and Antirrio.
The wind and powerful current had swept the child away from a beach where she was with her parents, and she was almost half a mile from the shoreline when Mr Karnesis carefully moved his ferry into position so the girl could be saved in the Gulf of Corith.
Mr Karnesis told Protothema: “The little one was not cool. She was frozen from her fear because the current was very strong. ”
Footage of the extraordinary incident show the little girl sitting calmly as the boat crew plucks her to safety.
The clip shows her wearing pink and holding on tightly to her unlikely raft in the wide open ocean as her rescue boats approach.
A crowd gathers as a crewman waits at the bottom of the boat’s ramp as her toy floats and closer.
The unicorn carrying the child drifts toward the boat as the crewman waits with his arms outstretched, and he lunges to pluck her out of the water to safety.
Her unicorn floaty toy was also salvaged.
The captain said he was approaching the Port of Antirrio on at about noon on Monday when the Port Authority put out a call saying a child had been swept away from a beach nearby.
Local press reported the girl had escaped her parents’ attention as she played on the toy.
When the parents realised that their daughter was out of sight, they alerted the port authority.
Mr Karnesis, who captains a local ferry called Salaminomachos, said he spotted the girl and then moved his ferry into position so she could be pulled out of the water.
In comments translated by the Greek City Times, he said: “I put the ship in such a position so as not to affect the small buoy, I placed it in such a way that the ship was not affected by ripples, because if the buoy sank we would have serious problems.
“We approached it slowly and we were able to rescue the child.”
He said the girl was very scared and did not speak at all, but did cry, perhaps out of despair, when she saw the ferry approaching her.
Mr Karnesis said she crew made silly faces and cracked jokes in a bid to relax and calm the girl before she was reunited with her parents.
“Fortunately, everything went well,” the captain added.
After footage of the rescue went viral and the story was covered by international media, Mr Karnesis received a phone call from Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, who congratulated him and his crew.
Local media reported she wasn’t the first to fall awry of the strong currents.
An elderly man was also reportedly swept away while he was floating on a sea mattress recently.