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“He could have saved another life!” The history of the great feat of the Soviet swimmer Karapetyan

“He could have saved another life!” The history of the great feat of the Soviet swimmer Karapetyan

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“He could have saved another life!” The history of the great feat of the Soviet swimmer Karapetyan
On September 16, 1976, the Soviet swimmer Shavarsh Karapetyan went for a morning run with his brother and trainer near the Yerevan reservoir. He was preparing for the next starts and new records. At that time, Chavarsh was already 17-time world champion, 13-time European champion and seven-time USSR champion in scuba diving. And this is 23 years old!

It was unlikely that he would have thought that that glorious career would almost end that morning.

But it was that morning that made him a hero. People remember his great feat almost half a century later.
"I didn’t think about myself"
A number 15 trolley bus drove past the Yerevan reservoir. The Karapetyan brothers and the trainer, who were passing by, noticed him because the transport was driving too fast. Just a few moments later, he galloped through the sand dam, flew into the water and began to sink. When Shavarsh ran ashore, only the "horns" of the trolley were visible.

It was necessary to act here and now. And Karapetyan instantly dived into cold water, the temperature of which hardly exceeded 13 degrees.


Photo: RIA Novosti


“I’m not an amateur, but a world-class swimmer. There was no time to think about myself. I thought only of those who were under water. The most difficult thing was to knock out the rear window of the trolleybus. I felt for the bottom rung of the stairs leading to the roof, grabbed it with my hands and smashed my window with a kick. Burned the pain. Of course, he was hurt by glass, but then he didn’t think about it - he understood that there was not enough time, ”Karapetyan told Komsomolskaya Pravda.

Shavarsh dived and pulled people without stopping. In total, he managed to raise 46 people. His brother sat in a boat and handed each person to a trainer who had experience in the rescue service and provided victims with the necessary first aid.


“Then I dreamed about this pillow!”
Karapetyan rescued 46 people from the trolleybus, but only 20 lives were saved. At some point, the rescuers who arrived at the place told him to stop, because he was pulling out already dead people. Continuing on was pointless. Moreover, Shavarsh already received serious cooling, lost consciousness, and before that he talked about some kind of pillow.

“Turned off when there was no more oxygen. Once I pulled out a pillow from under the water from the seat of the trolley - I was in a borderline state and did not feel that this was not a person. Then I dreamed about this pillow - I could have saved another life! ”

Incredible will
This feat was very expensive for Karapetyan. Immediately after the incident, he was taken to intensive care. Great blood loss, cuts throughout the body. And later revealed blood poisoning and bilateral pneumonia. It took the athlete almost two months to get out. Doctors admitted that at some points his condition became critical.

After such pneumonia, it was impossible to return to big sport. Doctors categorically forbade it. But Shavarsh slowly resumed training, for several years he was in the USSR team and even set his 11th world record. But at the same time, he understood that his state of health did not allow him to continue further. Saving dozens of people cost him a successful career, but Karapetyan does not regret it at all.



Picture: RIA Novosty

“In the USSR, trolleybuses should not fall into the water”
It is noteworthy that this was not the only feat of Shavarsh Karapetyan.

Two and a half years before rescuing people from a sinking trolley, the champion prevented another tragedy. He rode the bus from the sports base to the center of Yerevan. At some point, the bus stopped, and the driver went to check if the motor was working. But, apparently, he did not put the vehicle on the handbrake, and the bus rolled straight down into the mountain gorge. If he had come, no one would have a chance to survive.

Shavarsh reacted quickly, broke his glass with his elbow into the driver’s cab and managed to direct the bus towards the mountain, which he braked with minimal damage.

And ten years later, Karapetyan took an active part in extinguishing the fire in the Sports and Concert Complex in Yerevan, taking people out of the fire. And there were also cases when Karapetyan pulled people out of the water on beaches and in pools, saving their lives.


Picture: RIA Novosty

By the way, everyone learned about Karapetyan’s feat in saving people from the trolleybus only six years after what happened - it was then that an article by Sergey Leskov was published in Komsomolskaya Pravda.

The authorities of the USSR did not allow to publicize the incident for a long time, sparingly reporting only that people had survived thanks to the "coordinated work of rescuers."

“Immediately after that accident they wanted to print about it in a newspaper, but they did not miss an article. In the USSR, trolleybuses should not fall into the water! ”

May 19, 2020 Karapetyan turned 67. Health and many more living years, Shavarsh Vladimirovich!

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