Because you’re never too old to be a hero.

On February 19, 81-year-old Shigetaro Imanishi was enjoying an afternoon stroll along the Yumesakigawa River (pictured above), near his home in the city of Himeji, Hyogo Prefecture. The weather was brisk but sunny following a rain shower, but as he was soaking up the atmosphere at around 2 p.m. Imanishi thought he heard a voice calling for help.

After scanning his surroundings, though, he didn’t see anyone in distress. Just when he was about to continue on his way, though, Imanishi heard a second faint cry of “Help me,” and this time when he looked at the river, he saw the head of an 86-year-old woman, who had fallen into the water, barely sticking out from above the surface as she struggled and clung desperately to some reeds.

And so Imanishi sprang into action, leaping into the river as he called out to a married couple that was standing on the bank some 50 meters (164 feet) further down the path he’d been walking on. Swimming out to where the elderly woman was drowning, Imanishi managed to keep her head up above the water, and in time the married couple, 50-year-old husband Tetsuya Kojima and 49-year-old wife Keiko, arrived, and the three rescuers together pulled the woman back to shore.

Once there, the trio took the woman (who turned out to be a local resident) back to her home, and called an ambulance so that she could be examined. It’s a good thing they did, because while they were waiting for the ambulance to arrive Imanishi himself collapsed from hypothermia, and so the paramedics took both him and the woman who’d fallen into the river to the hospital.

Thankfully, Imanishi’s condition rapidly improved, and he was discharged the next day. In recognition of their actions, Imanishi and the Kojimas were all awarded the Nojigiku Award, and official commendation from the Hyogo prefectural government.

Imanishi’s family, while obviously proud of him, also expressed worry over his putting himself in danger at such an advanced age. The octogenarian shrugged this off, however, saying “I’m so glad we were able to help her,” and “Wanting to save someone who’s in danger doesn’t have anything to do with how old you are.” His selfless attitude is a virtuous example to both young and old, and a reminder that senior citizens can be heroes too, provided they’re not too busy participating in bladed-instrument street fights.

Source: Yahoo! Japan News/Kobe Shimbun Next via Jin
Top image: Wikipedia/Bakkai

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