BILBAO (Reuters) – When a 72-year-old man fell unconscious into the River Nervion in the northern Spanish city of Bilbao, Senegalese migrant Mouhammad Fada Diouf did not hesitate.
Diouf, 26, jumped into the river and for 15 minutes kept the man afloat. Other migrants jumped to help him when his strength began to fade until a nearby boat rescued them all.
He told Reuters he was with a group of friends near the river on Monday when they saw the man lose his balance and fall into the water, muddied by recent heavy rains.
“A lot of people were standing there and recording, and nobody was able to help him,” he said.
“He was in a bad situation so I decided to save him, to help him, because I know how to swim I knew that I could do it”.
Diouf came to Spain four years ago and makes a living weaving dreadlocks and various odd jobs.
After the video of the rescue went viral, a request was opened in Change.org to reward his courageous act with legal papers to stay in Spain.
“A lot of them called me and said ‘we love what you did, you are a superhero, nothing more’,” he said.
The professional basketball team Bilbao Basket, where Fada Diouf plays in a migrant integration program, praised him as a great role model.
“You are what we want to be,” the team said on Twitter.
Spanish immigration authorities could not immediately be reached for comment.
(Reporting by Vincent West. Writing by Emma Pinedo, editing by Inti Landauro and Angus MacSwan)