Zen Joyce. Picture: Facebook.Source:Supplied
Zen Joyce. Picture: Facebook.Source:Supplied

Aussie man who saved drowning couple, named

A MYSTERY man who saved a British couple from drowning while on holiday in Croatia has been named as New South Wales man, Zen Joyce.

The young traveller is on a two-year travelling holiday with his girlfriend Katherine Lumello and recently helped save Jackie and Craig O'Neill from rough seas after their boat capsized off the coast of Hvar in Croatia.

He said it was "great" to speak to British couple after they were reunited via a social media search, Nine News reports. Miss Lumello said it was "very exciting" the couple had been in touch with Zen and they would hopefully meet when travelling to London later this year.

She said Zen's decision to jump into rough sea and save them was "truly courageous and heroic".

"Very few people would have had the swimming ability to save those lives, and if Zen hadn't swam to their rescue, the situation would have ended very differently."

It comes after Craig O'Neill put an emotional plea on Facebook asking for help in locating the mystery hero who saved he and his wife from drowning.

Jackie and Craig O'Neill and their friends Jay Cartwright and Helen Wilson were on holiday in Croatia when they decided to hire a boat to sail to the Paklinski islands, he wrote.

But the boat hit rough seas and overturned, throwing the group into the water. The four tourists desperately flagged down passing boats for help as they clung to the sinking boat.

They were struggling to stay afloat when a man on a passing excursion boat spotted the group and dived into the water and started swimming towards them.

"Everyone was hysterical. We got our hands on the capsized boat to stay afloat and tried to wave down a passing boat about 25 metres away with about 20 people on it," Mr O'Neill told The Lancashire Po s t.

"Our boat then started to sink, so Jay made a dash for it."

Mr Cartwright managed to swim across to the safety of the man's boat, while Ms Wilson grabbed hold of a rope thrown down by a second boat.

But 42-year-old Craig and 51-year-old Jackie found themselves unable to get to safety and if it wasn't for their Aussie saviour, Mr O'Neill says they probably would have drowned.

"I could not make the swim to safety, I'm a rubbish swimmer," he wrote in his Facebook plea to find the unknown man.

"Some guy dived in and swam over to us and said I can only take one of you, so Jackie went with him."

At this point Mr O'Neill was exhausted from struggling to stay afloat in the rough water and he believed that he wasn't going to make it.

"I was on my own and exhausted. I had no options left and really thought that's it, I'm going to die here," he wrote.

The UK couple found themselves in trouble after their boat capsized and they were thrown into the water. Picture: Jackie O’Neill/FacebookSource:Facebook
The UK couple found themselves in trouble after their boat capsized and they were thrown into the water. Picture: Jackie O’Neill/FacebookSource:Facebook

Seeing that Mr O'Neill was just moments away from drowning, the Australian man made the brave decision to turn back, with Jackie still in tow.

The man told Jackie to hop on his back, saying "if we don't go and get him right now he's going to die," Mr O'Neill told The Post.

They reached Mr O'Neill and the mystery rescuer carried the British couple back to the safety of the boat.

The couple are desperate to find the Australian man so they can thank him properly, something they say they didn't get to do at the time.

"This man is an absolute hero if it wasn't for him things would of been very different. We desperately need to find him we have to thank him," said Mr O'Neill.

"The only thing I did to thank this man was give him a nod."

The accident happened on the September 21 and the man is described as having an average build, athletic body, thick dark hair and tanned skin.