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Courageous officers in dramatic night time river rescue – Police Bravery Awards – Thames Valley Nominees

October 17, 2014, 6:00 pm

PCs Sullivan and Byng and Sgt Grahame were completing one final drive around the town on night time economy duties when PC Sullivan and PC Byng noticed a man lying in the road next to a taxi. His friends explained he had a panic attack, hyperventilated, and collapsed. The officers were tending to him when he suddenly got up and began to walk away. PC Byng called for him to stop but he took off at a run in the direction of the river. PCs Byng and Sullivan ran after him. He climbed over a fence and proceeded to jump into the river, walking until the water was up to his chest.  Conditions were freezing but both officers waded in to get within grabbing distance. They tried to talk the man out of the water but he was drifting down stream, further into the current.

The man was shouting that he wanted to kill himself. It was a frantic, highly charged incident as his friends watched on in horror. The man was beginning to lose his footing and was only a few seconds from getting swept away. The only option left was to go in after him. PC Sullivan, secured to a lifeline attached by Sgt Grahame, climbed onto the wall waiting for an opportunity to jump. PC Byng was still knee high in the water, trying to talk him out. Suddenly the man lost his footing and his head disappeared under the water. PC Sullivan then jumped in and resurfaced with the man, who was putting up a struggle and was causing both of them to be pulled under. PC Byng shouted that he was going to spray the man with captor spray.  He only had a few seconds to do this while both men were above the water and PC Sullivan was looking away.

Time was of the essence but the spray worked to good effect. Sgt Grahame and PC Byng pulled PC Sullivan and the man up the river to a small pontoon where they could be pulled out. Had it not been for the perseverance and sound judgement of the officers the man could have perished and drowned in the cold water.

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