It’s no big secret that the edge of Devil’s Tear cove on the island of Nusa Lembongan (located just to the southeast of Bali) is a beautiful spot to take photos. Over the years, however, the huge waves that often smash violently against the rocky cove have not only injured but also swept away a few who stood too close to its edge.
Such was the scene that prompted Jake Davison, a tourist and diving instructor from Australia, to risk his own life and jump into the cove’s waters in March of last year after he saw a man fall off the cliff after one of those huge waves hit.
A video of his spontaneous rescue mission recently went viral on Facebook, garnering more than half a million views at the time of publishing. In the video, Davison can be seen continuously trying to pull the man back up, even as the waves relentlessly crashed down upon them, making it even harder for them to get to safety.
Davison says he was at a safe distance when he noticed that two Chinese tourists and an Indonesian man fell off the cliff. When he saw that the Indonesian man was having a hard time climbing back up, Davison decided to jump in and try to help him.
“By the time I reached him, he was not in good shape. I won’t forget the look of fear in his eyes – he really did think he was going to die,” Davison told Coconuts Bali today via Instagram’s direct messaging.
The 20-year-old, who was 19 at the time, found himself in a precarious situation. On the one hand, he needed to watch for any big waves that might be incoming, but he was also trying to stay afloat while the panicked man repeatedly pushed Davison underwater to avoid sinking. At some point, Davison said he could feel that he was beginning to drown too.
“At that moment I thought maybe I can’t save him, and now maybe I can’t save myself. The current was strong and the swell made it so hard to move a meter in any direction. But I thought I can’t just jump in and return without him,” Davison said.
Fortunately, he managed to push through it and climbed up to the rocks. Someone then handed him a rope to help him pull the other man out, and, after several attempts, they both got to safety. Locals helped to get him further up the cliff. Davison says that the man he rescued got a lot of cuts while trying to get back to the rocks and was then taken to a hospital by local residents. Davison also got cleaned up for the cuts on his own legs.
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‘A selfie isn’t worth your life’
Many tourists visit Devil’s Tear, located in the small Nusa Lembongan island off the southeast coast of Bali, hoping to take pictures or videos with waves spectacularly smashing against the cove as their background. But that intention has evidently led to numerous incidents, increasingly making clear that people must exercise extra caution when visiting this beautiful, yet menacing, destination.
A video of an incident went viral last year, showing a Chinese tourist getting submerged in a humongous wave after posing for a photo with her back facing the water. Thankfully, she reportedly survived with what were reportedly minor injuries.
Then, in June of last year, a Chinese tourist was killed after he too was swept away by a huge wave while taking selfies at Devil’s Tear.
Earlier this year in May, an Indian tourist went missing after he was swept away by a huge wave in Devil’s Tear Cove while reportedly taking a selfie. Despite a search and rescue attempt by authorities that went on for seven days, the tourist, who was identified as Kaushal Aditya, have not been found.
Plans to put up a safety guardrail along this cliff have long been in the works, but it was postponed due to a lack of funding. However, according to a report from IDN Times, the issue of finance has been resolved, but that relevant government agencies are sluggish in their execution.
The Indonesian man Davison rescued was one of three people who fell into the waters that day. The other two, according to Davison, were Chinese tourists, one of whom survived while the other died from internal bleeding.
Davison told Coconuts Bali he would’ve done it again if he had to, though adding that he would assess the situation a little more before jumping in. He said he was too scared to go back to the Devil’s Tear after the incident, because he says he would still jump in if he saw someone else who needed help.
“Because I can’t leave someone helpless in there. People just need to give the ocean more respect and understand its power … people should be more careful and respect big waves,” Davison said.
“It’s so dangerous and to stand so close to the cliff for a selfie, it isn’t worth your life.”