“It was a life or death situation” - hero office worker jumps into Wensum to save drowning kayaker
- Credit: copyright ARCHANT 2017
A 22-year-old office worker hauled a drowning kayaker out of the River Wensum after he capsized near the Queen of Iceni pub.
Will Spalding had been having lunch with colleagues in the afternoon sunshine on Tuesday when one of them spotted a man in the water who appeared to be in trouble.
Onlookers threw in a life ring to the stricken kayaker, but he had already been submerged under the water.
Mr Spalding took off his shoes and jumped in.
'It was instinctive,' he said. 'I weighed up the situation in a snap second.'
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Unable to find the man under the surface at first, Mr Spalding said it was 'pretty scary'.
'As I walked over the situation had started getting a bit more panicky,' he said. 'He must have been caught by the reeds and he was trying to grab hold of his boat. He clearly wasn't a very strong swimmer.'
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The kayaker had been under the water for around 20 to 25 seconds before Mr Spalding found him.
'From the side of the bank they said they could see bubbles, and I pulled him up,' he said. 'I just dragged him to the side like I was taught in school. I got him to the ring and brought him to the bank to the onlookers, who pulled him up.
'As soon as he was pulled up he did a big gasp of breath and water rushed out.'
Mr Spalding said he realised he had put himself at risk, but added: 'Had I not I would not have been able to live with myself. It was a life or death situation. By the time I was in the water I didn't want to come out with a dead body.
'Most people who are half decent swimmers would have done the same.'
After the man was out of the water security guards from the pub put him in the recovery position before paramedics arrived.
Mr Spalding said it was down to his colleague, Steve Leadbeater, 46, who spotted the man in trouble.
'It could have been one of those relatively quiet situations that goes unseen,' he said.
A spokesman for the East of England Ambulance Service said they responded at around 2.23pm.
They said the kayaker had 'unknown injuries' but he was conscious and breathing, and was taken to the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital.
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