Lismore man stays to help save lives

By ALEX EASTON

LISMORE man Andy Jackson has already saved three lives, now he is on Thailand's devastated Phi Phi Island working to save more.

Mr Jackson was a focus of concern in the early days after the tsunami crashed across Phi Phi Island, where he was visiting his girlfriend and her two children.

That visit was arranged for pleasure, but may have saved all their lives.

Before the tsunami struck on December 26, the Lismore signwriter and musician and his girlfriend, who lived and worked on the beach at Phi Phi, had decided to visit a remote village on the mainland, and her children had been sent to stay with their grandmother in northern Thailand.

Close mate and colleague, Bill Tyson, said the couple were oblivious to the disaster until Mr Jackson checked in with a friend back home last Wednesday.

"She asked if he was all right after the earthquake, and he said: 'What earthquake?'," Mr Tyson said.

That message was gold to Mr Tyson, who had spent four days fearing for Mr Jackson's safety.

"I don't know if I want to say this, because it makes me sound like a bit of a sook, but I spent the whole day ... just, you know, holding back tears. I could only imagine the worst," he said.

"I might appreciate my friends a bit better ? you do when you think someone's gone."

Mr Jackson was now helping his girlfriend, who feared for her friends and workmates on the resort island.

The wave is now believed to have killed about 130,000 people and to have erased at least one town on the coast of Sumatra.

As soon as they received the news, the couple began the 12-hour trek back to Phi Phi, and Mr Tyson said his mate would stay and do what he could to help.

Mr Jackson was expected to stay on Phi Phi for at least the next month, Mr Tyson said.



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