Lisbon Man Spots 68-Year-Old Man Face Down in Tagus River, Dives in and Saves His Life

January 23, 2021 Updated: January 26, 2021

A Portugal man leaped into freezing water when he saw an elderly man floating on his stomach in a river in central Lisbon.

José Brito is a 37-year-old fisherman and father from Cape Verde. He was walking near the Rio Tejo Tagus on Dec. 12, 2020, when he witnessed a 68-year-old man fall face-down into the water and then float motionless on his stomach.

Epoch Times Photo
(Courtesy of José Brito)

Brito told Western Journal that “about 12 people [were] standing around.”

When no one moved to help the old man, the fisherman took it upon himself to rescue him.

“Some said I shouldn’t do anything, that it would be better to wait for the bombeiros,” he said, referencing the firefighter rescue service. “But I couldn’t. No one of that age could survive for long.”

Epoch Times Photo
(Courtesy of José Brito)

After stripping down to his underwear, Brito swam to the man, turned him over, and hauled him out of the water and onto a set of steps.

His initiative was contagious; two people raced over to help as the fisherman initiated CPR right there on the stairs.

Before long, the victim regained consciousness and started coughing up water.

Safe Communities Portugal reports that firefighters were dispatched to Cais das Colunas at 11:30 a.m. By the time they arrived, the elderly man had already been rescued, but they took him to the hospital for a followup examination and care.

(Courtesy of José Brito)

“Upon learning of the rescue of the person the President of the Republic praised the good example of human solidarity and courage shown by José Brito,” Safe Communities wrote on Dec. 13, 2020. “While walking with his son [he] saved a human life.”

In fact, Brito told Western Journal that the president even called him personally, thanking him for his act of “human solidarity and courage.”

The call came late at night, catching him by surprise.

(Courtesy of José Brito)

“I was at home with my family,” he said. “I never thought it would be him calling me at that hour.”

Brito’s son praised him, too, calling him “the best father in the world.”

“I did what I had to,” Brito humbly said, adding that he “would do it all over again.”

Epoch Times Photo
(Courtesy of José Brito)

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