We can never anticipate the moments that test us, the moments where action or inaction changes the course of our lives forever. Moreover, we can tell ourselves how we would respond in certain situations, but we’ll never truly know until we find ourselves facing them. We all like to think that we could choose the path of bravery and self-sacrifice for those we love, but unless we’re given seconds to make a decision that changes everything (and hopefully we’ll never have to), we just don’t know. Steve Mote, a dad from New Zealand, made the ultimate sacrifice to save his loved ones – and he will forever be remembered as a hero.
41-year-old Steve Mote was visiting an Australian beach with his kids, partner, and niece when the day took a tragic turn. After a long day of fishing and swimming, Mote went to take a final dip while his partner Fordene MacDonald waited in the shade.
Mote, his son, and his niece splashed in the shallow water when a wave unexpectedly swept them to sea. Bystanders and rescue workers rushed to help, as did Mote’s partner MacDonald. MacDonald has trouble with her vision, referring to Mote as “her eyes” – she didn’t realize anything was wrong until she heard the commotion. She began to run towards the water, but navigating the rocky shore with impaired vision was nearly impossible.
Once rescuers reached the dedicated dad, his priority was making sure the kids were safe. Rather than immediately accepting the assistance of the rescue workers, he instructed them to go find the kids.
Rescuers followed Mote’s wishes, pulling the kids to safety and returning for him. Tragically, by the time Mote was pulled to shore, he was unresponsive. Mote’s final decision was to protect his loved ones, and he did. Both children are unharmed.
“He sacrificed himself. He knew it was either him or the kids,” his cousin Queenie Fa’alua told the NZ Herald. “There were people trying to help him and he pushed [them towards the kids].”
Steve Mote, a father of four himself, had been with his partner for five years. MacDonald had five kids of her own, all of whom remember him as both an amazing father and teacher. He was loving, generous, and selfless until his final moments.
“He was the one that got our family together. He understood us. He was our role model,” Fa’alua said. “Now, that he protected us, who do we look to next? He’s left a legacy [that] we can continue because we learned so much from him. It’s really raw and sad.”
A GoFundMe page has been set up to help support this heroic dad’s family.