Asian Tsunami Heros

Monday, January 10, 2005

Vacationers think fast, perform tsunami save

BENTONVILLE — Cousins of a Bentonville man saved a busload of people in Thailand last week when a tsunami swept across the Indian Ocean.

Bob Cheyne got a Christmas card a few weeks ago saying that his first cousins from Scotland were vacationing in Thailand over the holidays.

Drs. John and Sandra Chroston are both marine biologists who had conducted research in the Indian Ocean many times — but this trip was simply a vacation with their 12-year-old daughter Rebecca.

Cheyne called his cousin Margaret Chroston in Scotland after the tsunamis hit Asia last Sunday, wondering about his cousins’ welfare. He heard a remarkable story. "They were on a big beach in Thailand and noticed the ocean moving away from the land," Cheyne said. "No one on the beach realized what was going on — people were caught unaware."

The Chrostons realized what was happening and started gathering people from the beach. They found a city bus and asked a police sergeant to take them to higher ground. "They boarded about 30 people on the bus and got in the mountainous area of Thailand and saved all their lives," Cheyne said. "They’re OK, they’re fine."

The Chrostons came away unscathed, Cheyne said, but saw the devastation after the tsunamis hit. They spent two days in Thailand doing whatever they could, and now they are flying back to Scotland.

It was exciting to hear that his relatives saved a busload of lives, Cheyne said. Cheyne has lived in Bentonville for 36 years; he is a former Sam’s Club executive and was the voice of the Razorbacks for 22 years. He met his Scottish relatives nearly a decade ago. Even though he’s not known them that long, he was concerned about them. "I called my kids and let them know," he said. "It’s so interesting to know. Not only did they escape, but they helped others get off the beach."

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