The United States military says Yu-Gi-Oh! (opens in new tab) creator Kazuki Takahashi, whose death was reported in July (opens in new tab), was killed while attempting to assist in the rescue of three people who were caught in a rip current in a popular diving spot near Okinawa.
A report published by the US military news outlet Stars and Stripes (opens in new tab) says the incident took place on July 4, when Major Robert Bourgeau of the 10th Support Group at Torii Station, who is also a scuba instructor, spotted a woman calling for help for her 11-year-old daughter and a US soldier. The pair had become trapped in a rip current, apparently while snorkeling about 100 meters from the shore.
Bourgeau and one of his scuba students moved through shallow water to attempt a rescue; he was able to bring out the girl and her mother, who had also been pulled into the current, while the soldier was ultimately able to reach the shore on his own.
“The conditions were really, really rough,” Bourgeau said.
Somewhere during all of this, the 60-year-old Takahashi entered the water in order to assist with the rescue. Bourgeau said he didn’t see the Yu-Gi-Oh! creator, but his students did, multiple times, until he disappeared under the water. The Japanese Coast Guard would not confirm the report, but Stars and Stripes said Takahashi’s actions were detailed in “several sworn witness statements provided by the Army.”
“He’s a hero,” Bourgeau said. “He died trying to save someone else.”
Bourgeau has been nominated for the Soldier’s Medal (opens in new tab) for his role in the rescue.