UCLan student hailed a 'superhero' after saving dog walker from drowning in river Ribble

A university student has been hailed a “superhero” after saving a drowning man from the icy waters of the River Ribble.

By Brian Ellis
Monday, 8th February 2021, 7:00 am

And after being reunited with his rescuer, a grateful Dean Lowe said: “If it wasn’t for him I’d have been a gonner.

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Saudi Arabian undergraduate Turki Al-Shammari, 27, fought for 15 minutes to drag him from the fast-flowing water in Avenham Park, Preston, after hearing cries for help from partner Jessica Williams.

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Dean Lowe, centre, feels lucky to be alive after he jumped into the fast flowing River Ribble to try and save his pet puppy who fell in on a walk through Avenham Park, Preston, Turki Al-Shammari, right, a Saudi student helped rescue Dean and pulled him to safety, pictured with Dean's partner Jessica Williams, left

“I’m just glad that Dean is alive,” said the humble lifesaver who is spending a year studying for a fire safety engineering degree at UCLan. “I feel blessed that I was able to help.”

Jessica added: “Dean was in shock with the cold water and he was almost drowning. I can’t thank Turki enough for what he did. If it hadn’t been for him I would have lost him.”

The couple, who live in Ribbleton, were out walking their two dogs in the park when one of them, a black and tan French Bulldog called Kash, knocked his ball into the river and jumped in after it.

Dean and Jessica have placed missing posters up for their dog, Kash

Jessica, 26, said: “Kash got through a gap in the railings and jumped straight in. As soon as Dean saw what had happened he jumped in after him, but the current was really strong and there were whirlpools. They were both getting dragged under.

“Dean went under the water to see if he could find Kash and that’s when the shock hit him. I was screaming for help and then Turki appeared. He was wonderful.

“He tried for about 15 minutes to drag Dean out and was really struggling. But he wouldn’t let go of him and eventually he managed it. He’s a hero - a real superhero.”

Sadly dog Kash was swept away and Dean admitted he too was in danger of drowning before Turki stepped in.

Student Turki Al-Shammari has been hailed as a 'superhero' by Dean and Jessica but says he is simply happy Dean is safe and well

“When I saw Kash had jumped in the water I didn’t think, I just went straight in after him,” he said. “But I didn’t realise how cold the water was and how strong the current was. I was fully dressed and my clothes were dragging me down.

“I was freezing and I was gasping for air. I tried to swim, but my clothes were too heavy and the current was pulling me away.

“I got on my back to see if I could float - I’d seen that on SAS Who Dares Wins. I was knackered, but I managed to get near to the side of the river and luckily there was a branch sticking out.

“I managed to get one hand on the branch and Turki grabbed hold of my other arm. But we were struggling for ages because I’m quite a big lad and he couldn’t pull me up.

Dean says he was a 'gonner' after getting stuck in the water until Turki came to his aid

“Turki said he was going to jump in to see if he could help me from in the water. But I told him not to be silly because it was freezing and if he had come into the water that would have been it for both of us.

“We kept trying for ages and suddenly, after a few more attempts, he somehow managed to get me out.

“Someone up there must have been looking out for me, because I honestly thought I’d had it. If it had gone on for much longer I would have been in serious trouble. I would almost certainly have drowned.

“I owe Turki my life and I will never forget what he did for me. I can’t thank him enough.

“We are absolutely devastated about losing our dog - I tried my best to save him - but I could have gone with him but for Turki.”

Dean was taken to hospital for a check-up before being discharged. The couple then called on the student in his halls of residence in North Road to say a big “thank you.”

“We tried to give him some money and a gift, but he wouldn’t have it,” he said. “He even gave Jessica a bunch of flowers. What a great human being he is.”

Turki, who is in the final year of his degree at Preston after studying for two years at a partner college in Oman, admitted he was humbled by all the attention - the story of his dramatic rescue has already reached the Saudi media.

But he insisted he only did what anyone else would have done in the circumstances.

He was in Avenham Park feeding the birds - something he does every day - and heard Jessica’s screams for help.

“I jumped down to the side of the river and Dean was really struggling. It was a very difficult situation,” he recalled. “Unfortunately we couldn’t save the dog, but I did manage to grab hold of Dean’s arm. He is heavier than me and it was a real struggle.

“I was going to jump in, but Dean said ‘no.’ It seemed like ages, but eventually we somehow managed to get him out of the water. It was such a relief.

“Later they came to see me with presents. But I don’t want anything other than knowing that Dean is safe and alive.

“I am so happy that I have a good memory from Preston to take back home after I finish my course in May. I love it here in Preston and I feel like I have joined Dean and Jessica’s family. They are such lovely people.”