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Man starts New Year with heroic act, misses countdown

Sophon Satchayukorn talks modestly about how he jumped into the Tapi River to save a drowning woman - and missed the New Year countdown in Muang district of Surat Thani. (Photo by Supapong Chaolan)

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A man celebrating the countdown in Surat Thani missed the climax when he jumped into a river to save a drowning woman and came out of the water to see that the fireworks had already begun.

Sophon Satchayukorn was praised for his deed after a video was posted on the Facebook account of Chang K showing him jumping into the Tapi River to help a woman struggling in the strong current.

"He's a hero," one commentator wrote.

Amna Sitthi, who videoed the incident, said she saw a woman drop from the pier near the Naris bridge in Muang district as jostling revellers thronged the area for the countdown. People standing nearby threw her a life ring but she could not reach it and the strong current was carrying her downstream, she said.

Then a man in a pink T-shirt jumped into the river to help her. A boat finally caught up with them and brought them both back to the pier. The woman was taken to a hospital, she added. Her rescuer simply walked away.

Reporters finally tracked Mr Sophon, who informed them he was 25 years old and worked at an autoparts shop in the municipality.

He was at the bridge with his girlfriend for the celebration. As midnight neared and the final countdown was beginning, his girlfriend shouted out that a woman had been knocked into the river. So he jumped into the water to help her.

"When I came out of the water, I saw the fireworks celebrating the new year had already begun," he said. "I'm just happy to have saved her. It was a good start to the new year for me."

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