“He’s a hero” says other man who was also part of rescue attempt.

Manga and anime fans around the world were shocked last summer when the lifeless body of Kazuki Takahashi, creator of the Yu-Gi-Oh! franchise, was found floating in the ocean in Okinawa. An autopsy revealed that the 60-year-old manga artist, who had been vacationing in the prefecture, had drowned and his body had spent days drifting before its discovery.

It turns out that Takahashi wasn’t out for a pleasure swim when he lost his life, though. An interview in Stars and Stripes with U.S. Army Major Robert Bourgeau provides details on the circumstances surrounding Takahashi’s death.

On the afternoon of July 4, Bourgeau, who is also a scuba instructor, was at a section of the coastline of Onna Village known to the local expat community as Mermaid’s Grotto, where he was scheduled to teach a class to two students.

▼ Mermaid’s Grotto

The sea was extraordinarily rough, though, and before they got started they encountered a Japanese mother calling for help. The woman had come to the coast with a male companion and her 11-year-old daughter to snorkel, and the man and daughter had become caught in a powerful riptide roughly 100 yards (91.4 meters) out to sea. Bourgeau and one student headed into the water to help while the other student called emergency rescue services. A third person also leapt into the water to help: Takahashi, who just so happened to be there at the time.

Bourgeau reached the daughter first, but at this point her mother had reentered the water and also gotten caught in the riptide. Bourgeau was able to get them to shore and was able to direct the mother’s companion to safety too. Sadly, though, Takahashi never made it back, and his body was discovered three days later, and his car was later found parked near where the incident took place.

Though Bourgeau himself didn’t see the Yu-Gi-Oh! creator enter the water, his students did, and Stars and Stripes reports that witness statements also corroborate his attempt to help. Bourgeau has since been nominated for a medal for his life-saving actions, but adamantly says Takahashi is deserving of respect and praise as well. “He’s a hero. He died trying to save someone else.”

Takahashi’s untimely death will always be a source of sadness for his fans, but at least they can take solace knowing that when it really came down to it, the artist was willing to show the sort of selfless courage that any shonen hero would be proud of.

Source: Stars and Stripes via Hachima Kiko
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