In July, the world learned of the sad passing of Kazuki Takahashi, the creator of Yu-Gi-Oh! At the time his death was recorded by officials as a drowning, but a recent report from the US military’s newspaper has provided some extra details not known at the time.
A story on Stars & Stripes, the Department of Defence’s own news service, reports that a “U.S. Army officer [has been] recognized for rescuing three people from a riptide at a popular Okinawa dive spot in an episode that apparently killed a well-known Japanese manga artist”.
The officer, 49 year-old Major Robert Bourgeau, has been recommended for a Soldier’s Medal for his actions on July 4, which took place at Mermaid’s Grotto in the village of Onna, Okinawa. Bourgeau reportedly spotted three swimmers—two Japanese civilians and a fellow US soldier—struggling in a dangerous riptide, and while “still wearing his running shoes” raced out to rescue them.
The S&S report says that while the riptide alone was dangerous enough, six-foot waves crashing amongst it quickly caused a whirlpool effect, which began sucking in the stranded swimmers.
Bourgeau—a trained scuba diving instructor—was able to bring both civilians to shore, and then direct the US soldier to safety as well. During the rescue, however, “several sworn witness statements provided by the Army” say Takahashi also jumped in to help, but onlookers only “caught glimpses of him until he disappeared beneath the waves.”
“He’s a hero”, Bourgeau told Stars & Stripes. “He died trying to save someone else.”
Takahashi’s body was found by the Japanese Coast Guard the next day floating off the coast of Nago, a city in the northern part of Okinawa. His car was later discovered parked at Mermaid’s Grotto.