River Hero

Selfless act as the brave passer-by holds the injured man's head above the swirling waters
Selfless act as the brave passer-by holds the injured man's head above the swirling waters
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This is the moment a heroic rescuer waded into the River Ribble, to save a man who had plunged into the icy water.

The hero was close to the Penwortham Old Bridge, which links the Bridge Inn pub, in Penwortham, with Broadgate, Preston when he saw a man fall into the water from the bridge.

Neighbours living in Broadgate reported seeing the Good Samaritan scramble into the water, shortly before 10am yesterday, and grab hold of the man to keep his head above water.

The pair remained in the icy water for more than 20 minutes, while firefighters launched a specialist rescue team, which winched the casualty to safety, and led the brave rescuer ashore.

The two men were taken to the Royal Preston Hospital by ambulance, where the injured man, believed to be in his 30s, is in a critical condition, but the rescuer, in his 40s, did not suffer serious injury.

Today, Lancashire Fire and Rescue service Preston station watcher manager Gary Kiyani commended the man’s bravery but warned against the dangers of water rescues.

He said: “He is a very brave individual, the dangers of trying to affect such a rescue can be very bad.

“The water is extremely cold and it can overcome you very quickly.

“I commend his courage but I would urge people to think of their safety.”

At the height of the rescue there were more than 25 firefighters on the scene as the swift water rescue team guided the man to the Leyland Road river bank in a rescue sled.

The dangerous rescue was more further treacherous by strong underwater currents, which meant firefighters were placed on standby further down the river in case any of their colleagues were swept away.

He was eventually hoisted out of the river in a sling by firefighters using an aerial ladder platform and rushed to hospital.

Chris Bryan, 45, of Broadgate, took photographs of the drama as it unfolded.

He said: “There was one guy in a blue t-shirt who was supporting a man with blood down his front.

“The other guy appeared to be moaning, it was quite serious. “He was in there for a while, it was quite a long time before they got him out. “They used a crane because they could not get him onto the dinghy.

“It was about an hour from when I first noticed it, to getting something out, and there were more and more people turning up.

“I was standing out in my jacket and it was quite cold, so the water must have been freezing.

“I think the tide was going out and there are lots of rocks.”

Terry Murphy, 69, also of Broadgate, said: “The rescuer had the victim cradled in his arms and shoulders in the water.

“He was attempting to rescue him and hold the guy up otherwise he may have drowned.

“He (injured man) was in the water at least 20 minutes until the rescue people got him out.

“There was a scramble of firefighters and the air ambulance landed.”

A section of Leyland Road was closed by police while the men were rescued from the water and the North West Air Ambulance landed but the patients were taken to the Royal Preston Hospital in an ambulance.

*Do you know the men? Call Ben Robinson on 01772 838029