Vigilant hero saves drowning Reykjavik teen

A taxi passenger in Reykjavik who saw something out of the corner of his eye is being hailed as a hero for saving a man from drowning.

“I was on my way home in a taxi when I saw something black out on Tjornin [the large pond in the centre of Reykjavik],” says Andri Vilbergsson, who saved the life of a 19 year-old who had been taking a short cut home when the ice broke under him. The young man fell into the cold water and ended up fighting for his life in the darkness of the early hours of Sunday morning.

“At first I thought I had seen a goose or something. The taxi driver thought it was a dog,” 25 year-old occupational therapy student Vilbergsson told He very soon realised that it was a person in the water fighting for his life and the taxi driver braked quickly in the middle of the road bridge over the pond and called the police, while his passenger ran out on to the ice. The teenager was apparently getting weak by that point and on the verge of giving up.

Vilbergsson was unable to pull the boy out of the ice alone because it kept breaking under his weight. Another man, who claimed to be a first aider, soon came along and found a stronger patch of ice which enabled him to grab the teenager. Both men dragged him to safety.

Both men were extremely cold at this point; but the teenage victim’s body temperature actually fell to 33 degrees centigrade, a family member later told the press.

Shortly afterwards the police arrived and took the boy to hospital. Andri Vilbergsson says, on reflection, that it was highly unlikely and very lucky that he saw the teenager struggling in the water; as he was not near the edge of the pond, it was night time and he was dressed in black.

Reykjavik has been experiencing very cold weather over the last week, including plenty of long-awaited snow. The weather is, by comparison, mild today and the ice is melting quickly.

The lucky 19 year-old is said to be on the way to recovery, according to a family member.

Comments are closed.