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High school girl applauded for saving elderly woman from waterway in western Japan

Kiyo Miyabayashi holds a certificate of appreciation she received for rescuing an elderly woman, at Niihama Police Station in the Ehime Prefectural city of Niihama, on Sept. 9, 2019. (Mainichi/Ryoko Kijima)

NIIHAMA, Ehime -- An 18-year-old high school student in this western Japan city received a certificate of appreciation from local police for rescuing a woman in her 80s who plunged into a waterway and was being carried downstream.

The elderly woman suffered minor injuries including abrasions, but luckily survived. "I thought she would be swept away if I was slow, and instinctively took action. I'm glad she didn't suffer any serious injuries," said Kiyo Miyabayashi, a third-year student at Niihama Minami High School, which is operated by the Ehime Prefectural Government.

Miyabayashi had attended an opening ceremony for the second semester of school on Sept. 2, but had gotten into an argument with a friend. To get some fresh air, she went for a stroll along a road near the Nakanishi district of the city of Niihama at around 3:30 p.m., when she heard someone moaning and calling for help from a nearby waterway. She looked in and spotted the elderly woman drifting toward her on her back.

Kiyo Miyabayashi, who received a certificate of appreciation for rescuing an elderly woman, is seen at Niihama Police Station in the Ehime Prefectural city of Niihama, on Sept. 9, 2019. (Mainichi/Ryoko Kijima)

The water was less than a meter deep but the current was strong, Miyabayashi realized the seriousness of the situation and immediately jumped into the waterway. She grabbed the woman under both her arms and pulled her out.

She offered to call for an ambulance, but the woman refused, saying it would cause her family trouble. But though the woman could talk, she was not in a state to walk. A passerby helped out and she was eventually taken to a hospital.

Niihama Police Station in Ehime Prefecture reported finding a handcart upstream, and it was concluded that the woman had drifted about 135 meters downstream.

Miyabayashi stated, "You never know what will happen. I want to be able to keep making levelheaded judgments in the future."

(Japanese original by Ryoko Kijima, Matsuyama Bureau)

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