What Would You Do? Man Gives Up Rescuing Son to Save Drowning Wife

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drowingAs his wife floundered screaming for help in murky river water, a frantic New Zealand man was forced to abandon a bid to rescue his teenage son to save his partner from drowning, he said today.

Stacy Horton saved his wife, Vanessa, 35, as their son Silva, 13, drowned in the Whanganui River on North Island after her car plunged into the river late Saturday.

Horton said he arrived at the crash scene less than two minutes after the accident to hear his wife screaming in the darkness and to see his son’s friend and the family dog scrambling up the bank. His son Silva was trapped inside the submerged station wagon.

He tried to dive down to the vehicle, which was nose down but with the tail lights burning more than 3 feet below the surface, he told the Dominion Post newspaper.

“I tried to get down and get him but I couldn’t – it was just too deep. And Vanessa was going under,” Horton told the newspaper.
“I made a call to pull my wife to safety. I looked back and I could see the tail lights but it was too far and I couldn’t get him,” he said.
“Instead of going down and risking my life as well as my wife and son’s, I chose to take V(anessa) back and sat on the shore praying. It was all I could do,” a distraught Horton said.

Police and fire officers also were unable to rescue the boy from inside the vehicle.

Mid-Central police spokeswoman Kim Perks said Monday it was a very tough call for Horton. “I would certainly not have wanted to be in his shoes.”

Senior fire station officer Gary Wilson said the water was dark and murky and firefighters struggled in vain to reach the car.
“We tried everything but to no avail,” Wilson said.

Divers recovered the boy’s body on Sunday.

{Wire/Matzav.com Newscenter}


  1. The Mishnah in Horios (13a) states that in regard to sustaining and returning lost objects one should service a man first (Mishna Horayos 3:7, “A man has privilege over a woman, to be saved from death and to return his loss”, Rambam [on that Mishna], “You already know that men are obligated to keep all of the commandments while the women are obligated to keep only part of them, as is explained in Kiddushin (Mishna 1:7) and he is [thus] more sanctified and therefore the man’s life is saved first”). The Beis Yosef (YD 251) explains that when the Mishnah mentions “sustaining”, it refers to saving lives and in this a man comes before a woman (Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh Deah 252:8, “And if they both [a man and a woman] are going to drown in a river, one should save the man first”).

  2. 1&2, on the other hand, it sounds from the story that it was a vadai save for the wife, and only a sofek for the son- so it could be it’s different. and also it sounds like he would have endangered himself had he gone for his son

  3. Yesh Mehamemshalah Korin Es Matzav Kdai Lodaas Hanhagas Yehudim.

    Sheailah Kemo Zeh, Veteshuvos Kemo #2 Hem Tzarich Iyun Gadol Al Hisnahagus Yehudim.

    Chacham Eineihem Berosham.

    Kasavti B’Ivrit Aval, Bevakashah Lehorid Hashtuss Hazeh, Umocheh Et Hathread!

  4. B”H he was able to save at least one family member, why does it matter which one, let us feel his pain rather than play a hypothetical riddle game!!!!

  5. Terrible position to be in but he made the right choice.it sounds like all three of them would have died had he tried to save his son.also if you where not there and you don’t have horaah don’t pasken in a public forum especially if you risk chillul hashem and aivah.

  6. #10 —

    I don’t get that guy’s paranoia either. Why is he embarrassed to be a Jew?

    If someone said you should save women first, he wouldn’t protest. After all, goyishe secular culture is to save “women first”. Why is that guy more embarrassed than that, when advised that Jewish law is that you save a man first?

  7. the Sheva mitzvos Bene Noach apply equally to men and women and the din in Horius is not nogeah. It is Pashut this man made the right choice. However, the story does not belong on Matzav.

  8. Poor man! What a heart wrenching decision. I understand that they is a Jewish site, but my perspective is that he made the right choice. The survival of his son was not a sure thing, but it was for his wife. To have allowed her to drown as he attempted (possibly with futility) to save his son to me seems wrong. The scriptures say that he and his wife are one, and they may have other sons, if the Father wills it. Respectfully…


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