Assistance: Sonam Tashi was feeling unusually sleepy in the car that day. The last thing he remembers before the car he was travelling in veered off the road and into the river was looking at his watch.

It was 1:30pm, and they had just crossed Khasadrapchu on the way to Paro. It was June 28.

“My wife and I were in the back seat and from the moment I got into the car, I was unusually drowsy,” said Sonam Tashi. “When I opened my eyes, I was in the river and my wife was screaming.”

Although traumatised by the accident, Sonam Tashi still remembers the face of person who saved him and his wife.

Kumar Rai was that person.

Kumar Rai had just finished eating his lunch when he saw some people gathered by the roadside looking towards the river.

The couple had somehow managed to climb atop a boulder in the middle of the river. However, the strong current of the river made it difficult for the couple to swim their way off it and towards the bank.

“As I approached the crowd, I saw two people crying for help in the middle of the river,” said the 30-year-old taxi driver.

Kumar Rai immediately rushed down the hill where he saw three individuals preparing ropes to pull out the couple.

Without a second thought, Kumar Rai jumped into the river. “I couldn’t wait for the ropes. I just jumped into the river,” he said.

He managed to swim towards the boulder and grab a hold of Sonam Tashi’s wife’s hand. Using just one hand, Kumar Rai swam against the current and brought the woman ashore.

By then the individuals who were preparing the rope had also managed to pull out Sonam Tashi.

“I saw the man pulling out my wife and that was a big sight of relief for me,” said Sonam Tashi.

Drenched in blood and water, the woman told Kumar that there was another person still in the water. But the water current was too strong for Kumar to swim against it again.

“I felt guilty,” said Kumar Rai. “But there was no way I could have pulled her from that depth.”

The driver of the vehicle had also managed to get out of the river and the three were immediately rushed to the Paro hospital.

Sonam Tashi received 14 stitches on his head and his wife suffered some minor injuries on her legs and body. The couple and the driver are all in stable condition.

However, police and, search and rescue teams have not yet found the body of the fourth occupant, a woman in her 50s.

The accident took place some 2km from Chuzom towards Paro on June 28.

Younten Tshedup