‘Brave’ passer-by jumped into river to rescue man
09:11 22 August 2014
A brave passer-by who jumped into a river for a rescue has told how he feared the man who had fallen in would drown.
Matthew McKellar was on his way out for a meal with his fiancee and was walking along Norwich’s River Wensum when an elderly man fell into the water shortly before 6pm last night.
Mr McKellar, 37, said: “We saw someone bobbing about in there and they weren’t coming up. I panicked a bit and thought ‘he’s not coming up’ and jumped in.
“He was facing into the water as I could see the back of his head and he still had his walking stick in his hand.
“Then he tipped to the side but his head tipped forward again and you could see he weren’t going to come up.
“I thought someone had to do something.”
Mr McKellar, who works for Buildbase builders’ merchants, managed to throw the contents of his pockets towards his fiancée Tanya Duggan before jumping into the cold water, near to the Compleat Angler, in Prince of Wales Road.
Tony Hird was on a boat holiday with his family and was able to pull his cruiser alongside the two men in the water.
The 37-year-old, from Doncaster, said: “I was moored up then went to turn round to come back this way and I saw something fall in.
“This other fella jumped in to the water, swam across and helped him.
“I pulled up my boat aside.”
The boat’s crew were able to help pull both men into the boat.
David Paddick, a quay assistant for the Broads Authority, saw the commotion from the nearby Norwich Yacht Station.
He said: “I was talking to somebody up near the bridge and heard something going on in the water.
“I saw a chap on the far side just hauling the gentleman to the side.
“I ran round and grabbed a lifebuoy on the way.”
After the boat picked up the men he fetched some blankets to keep them warm, while they waited for the ambulance service to arrive.
Mr Paddick added: “I think he was just walking past and jumped in and grabbed the guy and hauled him to the safety chains.
“I was urging them to get to the safety ladder, until the boat came over.”
The rescue meant Mr McKellar and his fiancee had to abandon their plans for a rare meal out.
Mr McKellar, who lives off Bishopgate, said: “We’d managed to get a babysitter, which we very rarely get.
“But as the kids were round their grandparents’ we came home and had a Chinese instead. It was a bit of an eventful evening.”
A police officer at the scene said the elderly man was taken by ambulance to hospital for treatment.
She said: “A brave member of the public got him out of it.
“We would commend that member of the public but we try not to encourage people to go into the river for rescuing others as it’s potentially dangerous.”
Do you have a rescue story? Call Kim Briscoe on 01603 772474 or email firstname.lastname@example.org