When the legendary creator of the wildly successful “Yu-Gi-Oh!” series Kazuki Takahashi passed away in July, many questions were left unanswered surrounding the circumstances of his unfortunate drowning. US Army Major Robert Bourgeau confirmed Takahashi was attempting save the lives of three fellow divers caught in a deadly riptide off the coast of Okinawa.
Bourgeau is the deputy operations officer for the 10th Support Group at Torii Station in Yomitan. On July 4th, at a popular swimming spot called Mermaid’s Grotto, he noticed a Japanese woman calling for help. She pointed toward her 11-year-old daughter and a U.S. soldier, who were trapped in a rip current about 100 yards from shore.
Bourgeau, a SCUBA instructor who was there with two of his students, jumped into the rip current and sped out to the girl, but was quickly exhausted as he worked to bring her toward the shallows, he said. Then he encountered her mother who had somehow been sucked into the swirling waters as well. “I grabbed mom and I grabbed [the girl] and I just kicked for all life,” Bourgeau said. He would later direct the remaining soldier to shore, having exhausted himself too thoroughly to reenter the water.
Stars and Stripes reports at some point during the rescue, Takahashi entered the water. While Bourgeau says he didn’t see the Japanese icon during the ordeal, his students caught glimpses of him. He disappeared beneath the waves, and several sworn witness statements provided by the Army also testify Takahashi was attempting to help.
“He’s a hero,” Bourgeau said. “He died trying to save someone else.”
We are inclined to agree. May Takahashi’s legacy live on with us all, through his art and stories of his selflessness.