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Courage Under Water and Flames

Shavarsh Karapetyan's Remarkable Acts of Heroism

By Mankine Published 2 months ago 2 min read

The year was 1976 when Shavarsh Karapetyan, a retired Armenian swimmer, found himself thrust into a harrowing and unforgettable ordeal. Following a grueling 16-mile run along the shores of Yerevan Lake, fate intervened in the form of a deafening crash that shattered the tranquility of the day. A trolleybus, having lost control, careened off the road and plunged into the frigid waters of the reservoir, sinking to a depth of 33 feet, approximately 82 feet from the shore.

Despite the daunting challenges posed by sewage-infested waters and the murky veil of silt that obscured visibility, Karapetyan exemplified unwavering courage and resolve. Without hesitation, he plunged into the icy depths, propelled by a singular determination to rescue those imperiled within the submerged trolleybus. Employing his powerful legs, Karapetyan kicked open the rear window of the vehicle, embarking on a heroic mission to save lives.

Amidst the darkness and chaos beneath the surface, Karapetyan's efforts yielded miraculous results. Despite sustaining multiple lacerations from the treacherous shards of glass and enduring the numbing chill of the water, he succeeded in rescuing 46 of the 92 passengers aboard the stricken trolleybus. His swift actions and indomitable spirit ultimately saved the lives of 20 individuals, a testament to his extraordinary bravery in the face of adversity.

However, the toll exacted by this selfless act of heroism was substantial. Karapetyan, hospitalized for 45 days, grappled with grave complications stemming from his immersion in the contaminated waters. Pneumonia and sepsis further compounded his recovery, leaving an indelible mark on his health and future endeavors. Though he eventually emerged from the shadow of this ordeal, the damage inflicted upon his lungs dashed his aspirations of continuing his illustrious career as a competitive swimmer.

Reflecting on the harrowing rescue, Karapetyan harbored haunting memories of the challenges he confronted in the depths below. Recalling the profound darkness that enveloped him and the ever-present specter of uncertainty, he revealed the anguish of inadvertently grasping a seat instead of a passenger during one dive. The memory of this missed opportunity continues to haunt him, a poignant reminder of the weight of responsibility borne by a true hero.

Undeterred by the physical and emotional scars left by the trolleybus rescue, Karapetyan's unwavering commitment to others manifested anew in 1985. Confronted with a blazing inferno that entrapped several individuals within a burning building, he once again demonstrated unparalleled bravery. Without hesitation, he ventured into the heart of the conflagration, risking life and limb to extract the imperiled occupants from imminent peril.

Tragically, Karapetyan's valiant efforts in the face of flames exacted a heavy toll. Suffering severe burns during the daring rescue operation, he found himself once more confined to a hospital bed, battling against the ravages of fire. Despite the physical agony and arduous recovery that followed, Karapetyan's heroism shone brightly as a beacon of hope and inspiration.

In the twilight of his storied life, Shavarsh Karapetyan embarked on a new chapter marked by resilience and entrepreneurial spirit. Relocating to Moscow, he established a shoe company aptly named "Second Breath," a testament to his unwavering determination to defy adversity and breathe new life into his endeavors. Today, Shavarsh Karapetyan continues to defy the odds, actively managing his business and embodying the enduring legacy of a true hero whose indomitable spirit knows no bounds.


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