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Hero dad leapt into river to save man's life
A HEROIC dad who leapt into a river to save a man’s life has described it as “a moment of madness”.
He swam more than 20m to reach the man, who was face down in the water and being swept upstream by the current.
The casualty had stopped breathing, but as Lee pulled him over his shoulder to swim back to shore the man started coughing up phlegm and foam.
Back on the riverbank Lee put the man in the recovery position before police and paramedics arrived to carry him to a waiting ambulance.
The casualty, in his 40s, known only as Gus, is now recovering in intensive care at Southampton General Hospital.
Recalling his heroics, Lee – a keen body boarder – said he would do it again.
“Looking over there now I can’t believe that I did it,” he told the Daily Echo.
“But for me not going in to help would seem selfish.
“It was quite cold at first and hard to swim back holding him with one arm and there’s always the threat of currents underneath.
“But that was someone’s son and he must have a family. I just hope he is all right.”
Lee, 34, from Bitterne, Southampton, was driving to his car mechanics workshop when he saw the fully-clothed man plummet into the fast-flowing waters below.
He immediately pulled over and ran to the riverside, where two fishermen were watching.
Neither of them could swim so Lee tore off his shorts and Tshirt to take the plunge.
Lee, who has a 13-year-old daughter Caitland, said: “It was like a moment of madness.
“I had hundreds of thoughts going through my mind, but it was like a voice inside me was saying ‘you have to do this’.
“I knew I would struggle fully clothed so I stripped down to the bare essentials and then the adrenaline took over.”
PC Stuart Rennie who attended the scene hailed Lee’s actions as “absolutely outstanding”.
He added: “There’s no doubt that he saved this man’s life.”
He also thanked a man named Mitch Gregory who helped Lee get the man to shore safely.
However, professional rescuers have warned the public that it is not always the best thing to put themselves at risk.
Carey Mackinon, of the Southampton-based Maritime and Coastguard Agency, said: “Don’t put yourself at risk in any circumstances.
“The golden rule of rescue is that you as a rescuer are the most important person and if you put yourself in danger there could be two casualties.”
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