Thursday, April 28, 2011

Saudi Man Dies Saving American Child

The following article is reprinted from Arab News. Unfortunately there doesn't seem to be much at all written about this story in the American press. This young man died a hero, and America should hear about it.

Mourners hail Saudi's heroic act in US

Published: Apr 26, 2011

JEDDAH: A large crowd attended in Jeddah on Monday the burial of Mashari Abdul Mohsen Al-Siraihi, a 21-year-old who drowned in a lake in Ohio last week after rescuing an American child.

Al-Siraihi, born in 1990, was studying electronic engineering in the University of Akron. His body arrived at King Abdulaziz International Airport on Sunday.

Al-Siraihi and his friend George Raresheid III, 46, of Lake Township drowned in a cold water reservoir in West Branch State Park, Ohio, in a weather-triggered accident on April 17.

Though saddened by the untimely death of the young Saudi man, mourners were proud that he gave his life for another and described him as a real hero.

Speaking to Arab News, the mourners were unanimous in their view that Al-Siraihi’s heroic deed was enough proof for Americans to realize that Saudis are a peace-loving people who uphold moral and humanitarian values.

They said his deed was no strange act to Muslims, who love others regardless of their race, color or creed.

Nasser Al-Siraihi, a relative of the deceased, said he was deeply saddened by the death.

“Though we are sad, we are also proud that Mashari was able to save the American child, who was the son of his friend,” he said.

Muhammad Hamdan Al-Sirahai, Mashari’s uncle, expressed similar sentiments and said he saved a child who was not from his race or religion.

“Mashari was able to project the true picture of Islam. He was a hero who died saving others,” he said.

Naif Al-Siraihi, another uncle, who is a master’s degree student in the US and who accompanied the body back home, said his nephew was sailing with his American friend and his son Michael, 13, in the lake when their 14-foot flat-boat fishing boat capsized in bad weather.

He said Al-Siraihi swam with the child to the shore and went back into the water to rescue the father but could not. He finally succumbed to the water.

He said when American rescuers reached the scene it was too late and both men died.

Naif Al-Siraihi, who shared the same room with Mashari, said the search for his body continued into the next day. “After 20 hours of searching using helicopters, Mashari's body was found near the shore,” he said.

Al-Siraihi's relatives and friends who received the body at the airport said amid tears that his heroic deed would live long in the memory.

UPDATE: Apparently there are two versions to this incident - the way Arab News chose to report it on April 26 with Al-Siraihi dying as a hero, and the version published on April 18 in the whereby the American boy who survived was the actual hero. Another issue is the fact that the CantonRep reported that Al-Siraihi was in fact the boyfriend of the daughter of the other man who drowned. This was completely omitted in the Arab News article - because good Saudi boys/heros don't have girlfriends. I believe Arab News has intentionally hoodwinked its readers, myself included. And I'm not happy about it.


  1. Of course it's not reported in mainstream American media. That would destroy the oil rich, evil, sadistic Saudi image the media has worked so hard to create. It would be altogether counterproductive.

  2. This is unfortunate of our US media to not cover ... there are not enough "positives" ever shared by the media anywhere in the world ... Thank you Susie for sharing with all of us.

  3. Tragic but very moving. Nothing to do with nationality or relgion, just a hero. :)

  4. very sad but he died helping another which without a doubt is heroic.
    may Allah grant his family sabr at this hard time

  5. Why would two adults and a boy go into an unstable boat in inclement weather, especially at this time of the year? Where were the life jackets?

    While this is a very heartrending, tragic story and Al-Siraihi is certainly a hero, it hardly has anything to do with nationality or religion.

    Everyone knows some Muslims who behave properly. Unfortunately, the exception is not the rule and will not change anyone’s opinion of Muslims in general and Islam in particular because the daily news is filled with just the opposite behavior. Even animals have been known to rescue people. Hero stories appear in the world news all the time, although there are very few in the news of the Islamic world.

    If this man is an example of "true Islam”, then what about all of those other countless Muslims who are persecuting and slaughtering their brothers and sisters as well as going after other innocent people on a daily basis, the world over because of their religion, gender, color or creed while the rest of the ummah passively looks on or even supports the carnage?

    If millions of Muslims protested, marched and actually were heroes against the above, then Islam’s black eye might go away.

  6. It appears that the Saudi hero story is not quite the actual happening:

    Two drown; brave boy tried to save them

    Waves pummeled 13-year-old Michael Raresheid in his frantic attempt to reach the shore of the reservoir before it was too late.

The wind tore at the small fishing boat in the reservoir at West Branch State Park, filling it with water as Michael’s father, George Raresheid III of Lake Township, attempted to turn toward the shore.

The boat was capsizing and its two life jackets were out of reach.

Hitting the 47-degree water, the three inside, George, Michael and a Raresheid family friend, clung to the 14-foot flat-bottom boat Sunday evening as the cold, wind-whipped waves in the Michael J. Kirwan Reservoir hammered them. They were slapped to the left, to the right. And they couldn’t move: The anchor still was tied to the capsized boat.

The young teen did all he could do in that moment: He swam.

    A 50-50 CHANCE

...Time wasn’t on George Raresheid’s side as the 46-year-old held onto the boat, encouraging his son to swim: To swim for help. To swim, as some family members believe, to save himself.

“He wasn’t going to let his son drown or freeze to death in that water,” said George Raresheid’s father, George Raresheid Jr. of Garrettsville. “I believe my son made the decision if one of them was going to make it, Michael was going to make it. He told Michael to go on. I believe George helped Michael to get to the shore.”

The boy, a North Canton Schools’ student, was found without shoes or a jacket, which investigators say helped him make the 30-yard swim to shore. The senior Raresheid believes his son helped Michael also remove a hooded sweatshirt to give him “a fighting chance.”

Michael made it to shore and began running. He didn’t stop for nearly half a mile, flagging down a passerby, who called 911. He then summoned help to look for his father and Melshari Al Surihi, his sister Sarah’s boyfriend.

The two were in the frigid waters. Darkness had set in.

“Michael swam quite a distance in freezing, rough waters. He had to continue on from there. It was quite a hike, and actually a stroke of luck he came across any help after dark on that windy night,” Sheriff Doak said. “He is a very brave young man, and he kept his head.

“He was trying to get to help. He was trying to do whatever he could to save his father.”
    Raresheid and Al Surihi had attempted the swim to shore, leaving behind the fishing boat tied down by its anchor. But the strong wind and seesawing waves made the trip difficult.

George Raresheid was found clinging to a log in the water. He was unresponsive. Al Surihi, a University of Akron student, was missing.

CPR was administered and Raresheid was transported to Robinson Memorial Hospital, where he died at 12:50 a.m. Monday. Michael also was transported to Robinson Memorial, where he was treated for hypothermia and transferred to Akron Children’s Hospital. He was discharged Monday.

Back at the Kirwan reservoir, a Portage County dive team plunged into the spot where the water is at  a depth of 24 feet. At 2:30 p.m. Monday, they recovered the body of 23-year-old Al Surihi, who was from Saudi Arabia.

Raresheid, of Garden Park Circle NW, was the husband of Lisa. Michael was their youngest child. Raresheid, was also the president of National Computer, a small business in Jackson Township. He was driven, his father said.

“He could accomplish anything,” said the senior Raresheid, adding that his son, originally of Portage County, worked in a number of businesses over his life and, at one time, served as a Garrettsville police officer.  

“George enjoyed living. He enjoyed being humorous. He loved the outdoors, motorcycling and four-wheeling,” Raresheid’s father said. “But most of all, he loved his family. He loved Michael.”

    Why do the Saudis lie?

  7. Welton - Thanks for bringing this to my attention. I searched for more articles in US news outlets about this report in Arab News and thought it was strange that I couldn't really find anything. As for why do people make up lies like this, I'm sure it makes it much easier for the family to accept his death and feel that their son died a hero. Still, there is no shame in the way he died and to lie about the circumstances isn't necessary.

  8. Who cares if Saudis lied? Americans have been lying for years now. So what if the Arab News story favored. There is no harm. It is about time Saudis took the lead in shining rather than accepting the "dark" image Americans have imposed upon them.
    An American

  9. I find it strange that one questions the "arab version" completely solely on the fact that America reports are different. Has anyone heard of objectivity? Who says that the American report is more truthful than the other? I think they are both biased, obviously...

  10. Susie updated: …I believe Arab News has intentionally hoodwinked its readers, myself included. And I'm not happy about it.

    Arab News is known to do that by specifically printing misinformation or omitting information. They are known to censor and even change the comments made by readers.

    Very clearly AN and their supporters want the people to believe that this man was a hero and therefore this is representative of all Muslims.

    Accident Report shows this:

    Boat crashes in reservoir, killing George Raresheid and Meshari Alusurhi

    Posted: Tuesday, April 19th, 2011 at 1:10 pm
Accident Type: Boat / Watercraft

    Portage County, Ohio — April 17, 2011
    Three males were aboard a boat that crashed on Michael J. Kirwin Reservoir on Sunday. The craft capsized around 7 p.m., and two men have died as a result.
    Responding officials are reporting that the accident was caused by weather conditions at the time. High winds and rough waters likely caused the fishing boat to tip. A 46-year-old Lake Township man, George Raresheid, was thrown from the boat along with his 14-year-old son Michael. Also in the boat with the Raresheids was 23-year-old Meshari Alusurhi—a student at the University of Akron.

    While Michael managed to reach the shore and run for help, the other two men died in the incident at West Branch State Park. It is suspected that life jackets were not bearing worn by any of the boat’s occupants.

    The Ohio Department of Natural Resources reports that 11 people drowned in Ohio boating accidents in 2011.

    Autopsy Report:

    ”...George Raresheid, 46, of Uniontown, the owner and operator of the boat, died Monday morning at Robinson Memorial Hospital after being pulled from the reservoir by civilians. University of Akron student Meshari Alusurhi, 23, of Saudi Arabia, remains missing. A 14-year-old boy survived and was treated for hypothermia.
    According to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, at 7 p.m. Sunday a 14-foot fishing boat with three occupants capsized on the reservoir about seven miles east of Ravenna.
    The teenage boy was able to swim to shore and summon help. He was treated at Robinson Memorial Hospital in Ravenna and released. Raresheid was found clinging to a log in the water and was also taken to Robinson Memorial, where he died.
    The Charlestown Fire Department received a call around 7 p.m. Sunday night from the 14-year-old boy, who swam to shore after the boat submerged.

    "The young man walked to (the boat launch) and got a cell phone," Charlestown Fire Chief Rick Grund said. "He told us his dad and a friend were out in the boat."...”

    ”. . .Upon reaching shore, Michael Raresheid ran about a half-mile before flagging down a passerby, who called 911.” . . .

    George Raresheid’s Obituary:

    A number of Google searches show hundreds of hits. Virtually every US newspaper and official report states that the boy managed to swim to shore and alert authorities via a borrowed cell phone.

    George Raresheid died in the hospital while Al-Siraihi was missing. The Saudi version claims that friends said Al-Siraihi rescued the boy. It is a mystery where the the friends got this information, since all official reports make claims to the contrary.

    Misinformation is quickly exposed on the internet. The facts will come out once the boy makes a statement as to what happened. This thing may yet go viral.

  11. "I find it strange that one questions the "arab version" completely solely on the fact that America reports are different. Has anyone heard of objectivity? Who says that the American report is more truthful than the other?"

    Why would you find that strange? What could possibly be gained by lying about the facts? No one was there other than the three people involved. Why would the boy lie and say the man helped him if he didn't OR why would the news people change the story to say the man didn't help the boy if he did? Makes no logical sense. And NO, Americans don't have something against Arabs so bad that they would have to lie about something like that. It is a small inconsequential story. People drown everyday. The simplest explanation (and one provable with a good autopsy) is that the boy swam to shore and the other two men died. The Arab news did what it could to make their compatriate look is a great read in the Arab world. To me, who cares? If it makes this man's death more palatable to the family thinking he died a hero, if it makes it easier for them, then fine. Let them spin the story as they want to.

  12. @oby
    I find it strange that one swallows the american report completely as truth while the arab version is concidered biased. News are, for the most part, always biased in some way. More or less. This story is, for me at least, not interesting in the least but I do find it alarming that there is no critical thinking when reading news reports whether they are reported by the US, other arab countries or whatever. I suggest people take a look into the realm of sociolinguistics, it is very interesting and gives you a new way of thinking. :)

  13. Hi Susie - I've just come across your blog. How often do you go back home to the US?

  14. Hi David - So far I have been fortunate and have been able to travel back to the states 5 times in 3.5 years. I do know other women in my position who have not traveled back home in many years, so I feel very blessed that I have been able to do that. Cheers!

  15. I was interested in this story and found this news article before your update.

    I think the son is a hero. Amazing he was able to swim to shore in the cold and wind.

    Interesting how the tragic story got turned around. Spin... Shame on Arab news. They didn't have to mess with the story to make it newsworthy.

    Love reading your blog, Suzie.

  16. Hi susie...Will you please read this.

  17. Let it be known that Meshari, Michael and George were all heros. Meshari was not able to make it back to shore, but he kept Michael clinging to the boat for as long as possible and would swim after him if he fell off. George would also do the same thing. He wanted to protect his son. When the time came, Meshari pushed Michael into the water and told him to swim. Meshari was a hero. Saudi News and American News aren’t reliable and both have the stories wrong on certain details. This is coming from a family member of George’s who was there for all of it and heard the story from Michael directly. This is a tragic loss for all of us, by trying to figure it out and place blame on who is right and wrong, you’re doing more harm than good. Just pray for the families and let Allah do the rest.
    Also, there were life jackets, all of the men choose not to wear them. That is nobody’s fault.
    Another thing, Meshari was 23 and born in 1987. It’s stories like these that are retold with wrong information that cause people to question what actually happened.

  18. It's not at all clear who is a hero and who was simply a victim. The two main accounts are not necessarily contradictory--just differing in what they consider a "hero." The fact is, there is only one person who is alive who was there: the 13-yr old...and his memory of the events may well be clouded by the awful tumult of the storm, the near-freezing water and the overall ordeal and trauma. As near I as can discern, there were no "heroes"...just people who weren't wearing life jackets and who paid the price.

    I know that area of the country very well -- Ravenna (pronounced raVAnna by the locals), Garrettsville, Canton -- and everyone knows that storms can come up quickly and fiercely. April is no time to be flailing around in the water in northeast Ohio. So the two adults in the boat should have made sure everyone had a life-jacket before they even went aboard and at least when the weather started acting up. Storms are quick but they're not instantaneous.

    This appears to be a case of looking for heroes in the absence of facts which no one will ever know.

  19. we are all human, why we always pin point the race, color, and nationalism, this what i call races-set at it"s best. we should feel that the Saudi young man, was a hero for all man kind, the type of massage we want to send to our kids! a good man whom was a Saudi who tried and died saving a life!

    we ought to say he was a good man who did the natural way of being as a human trying to save his man kind.

    look at animals behaivors when they try to save their own, we have to learn and go back to basic, to teach our kids, the goodness of us human nature, not as where we come from or what country we represent.

    if we want to change our thinking to erase the image of our behaivors of negativity then we have to send our condolences to the family of the young man who dies, regardless of what happens

    Yousef Ghamdi - UAE

  20. To God we belong, to God we return!