Tsunami Survivor Rescues Wife, Mother, and Other Victims by Swimming Through Streets in a Scuba Suit


Unfortunately, it’s too late to get this courageous Japanese tsunami survivor on this week’s Bro of the Week list. However, 43-year-old Hideaki Akaiwa managed to out-badass and out-boss both John Rambo and John McClane when the March 11 tsunami ravaged his hometown of Ishinomaki, Japan. Akaiwa was at work on Friday afternoon when the tsunami made landfall. Concerned about his wife, Akaiwa immediately rushed back to his neighborhood, only to find it flooded by a 10-foot wall of water. Rather than heading to higher ground, Akaiwa — whom the LA Times notes was a surfer — got his hands on some scuba gear and, like a total boss, dove into the great deluge to search for his wife of 20 years. No one is sure how the hell he acquired scuba gear, but somehow he managed. Here’s what he told the paper about navigating the dangerous, wreckage-filled waters:


“The water felt very cold, dark and scary,” he recalled. “I had to swim about 200 yards to her, which was quite difficult with all the floating wreckage.”


He came to his wife’s rescue, scuba suit and all, last Saturday. But his mother was still missing…
Akaiwa grew frustrated with search-and-rescue efforts to locate his mother, who had yet to be accounted for in evacuation centers a few days after the tsunani. So on Tuesday Akaiwa threw on a pair of camo fatigues and headed back into the mire, bravely wading through neck-deep water in the last neighborhood where his mother was spotted. Finally, four days after the tsunami hit, he found his mother on the second floor of a flooded-out house. He told the paper, “She was very much panicked because she was trapped with all this water around… I didn’t know where she was. It was such a relief to find her.”


Mission accomplished? Hell no. The LA Times notes Akaiwai is continuing his quest to pull victims from the devastation.


Akaiwai, on the other hand, isn’t big on waiting. He can’t sit still. He pokes around in his car, battered and likely ruined by the tsunami, pointing out a three-inch fish lying dead almost half a mile inland, one of the tsunami’s smallest victims.

Then, he adjusts his pants, reaches into his still-wet car and pulls out a pair of Ray-Ban aviator glasses from a light brown case, pours out the sea water and puts them on to complete his outfit before mounting the bicycle he’s using since his wheels are disabled. Akaiwai next reviews the contents of his fanny pack: green tea, water, a flashlight, camouflage work gloves, a Swiss Army-style knife and a change of clothes.

Finally, he adjusts the grip on his bicycle and heads off in search of other trapped survivors.

“Sorry, I have to get going,” he says as he navigates around the dead fish, through a puddle and around the corner.


Just an unbelievable story of heroism. While you’re out tonight consuming adult beverages and getting your March Madness on, please toast Hideaki Akaiwa, nuclear engineers who stayed behind in a doomsday scenario, and the thousands of other unsung heroes whose stories have yet to be heard from the nightmare in Japan. They are the true Bros of the Week.


Picture: LA Times

Read more about Hideaki Akaiwa here and here.

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