A SOLDIER at home on leave is being hailed a life saver after leaping into a freezing river to keep a drowning woman afloat until more help arrived.
Private Andrew Simpson, from Danesbridge, Bridgnorth, rushed to the aid of the woman, who had fallen into the river Severn in Shropshire and was tangled in floating branches. A 56-year-old man who had rushed to rescue the woman also got into difficulties.
Pvt Simpson, 22, who serves with the Mercian Regiment, waded into the water up to his shoulders to reach the woman, who was about 10ft from the river bank and was semi-conscious.
He stayed with her for 10 minutes in freezing conditions before the emergency services arrived.
Pvt Simpson, who was this afternoon returning to Catterick Barracks in Yorkshire to continue his army training, said: “I had just popped to a friend’s house in Washbrook Road and came running down to see what was happening.
“An older man was holding onto the lady but was losing his grasp so I jumped in.
“She was not really conscious at the time – her eyes were flickering but she was not saying anything.
“I just thought I had to help and dived straight in. It was too deep to stand so I grabbed hold of a branch and managed to hold on.”
The alarm was raised at about 9.20pm yesterday/TUE and firefighters from Bridgnorth attended the river near Washbrook Road, Low Town.
Two firefighters recently trained in water rescues wore dry suits to grab the man and woman and pull them out.
Neil Griffiths, Shrewsbury Fire Station manager, said they would not have been dealing with a river rescue if the pair, who were clinging onto reeds, had been in the water much longer waiting for the river boat to come from Shrewsbury.
Murray MacGregor, a West Midlands Ambulance Service spokesman, said the 56-year-old man was helped out of the water by his wife.
He said the rescued woman was suffering from the effects of hypothermia and was semi-conscious and was taken to Princess Royal Hospital.
A West Midlands Ambulance Service spokesman said: “The emergency services were alerted to a woman in her 50s being in the river.
“A 56 year old man initially went into the water to try and help. He was joined shortly afterwards by a 22 year old soldier who was walking home at the time. It is not known how long the pair were in the water for.
“The soldier went into the water up to his shoulders and held the woman afloat until firefighters were able to bring them both to the shore.
“In the meantime the other rescuer had been helped out of the water by his wife.
“The middle aged man refused treatment and was left at home. The soldier, who is based at Catterick Barracks in Yorkshire and serves with the Mercian Regiment was checked over at the scene but did not require hospital treatment.ends…