Couple’s praise for police in river rescue

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Two Bedfordshire police officers have been praised by an elderly couple they saved from the River Ivel.

The couple, in their late 60s, were walking along the river bank in Biggleswade on the evening of 31 July, when the man slipped on a narrow bank and fell in. His wife tried to help him but also went into the water. A passerby saw they were in trouble and called the emergency services.

PC Saj Saddique was the first on the scene. He took his stab vest and boots off then lay on the ground and lowered himself down the bank.

He got the man to hold onto his leg, while he and a member of the public pulled his wife out the water, lifting her over PC Saddique’s head. They then pulled her husband out and wrapped them both in their jackets to keep them warm.

The couple had been in the river for around 20 minutes and were both suffering from exposure, as well as minor cuts and bruises. An ambulance took them to Lister Hospital, and they have now made a full recovery.

PC Allie Wilson, a student on only her fourth shift, directed the other emergency services to the scene and arranged all the after care for the couple; visiting them in hospital, ringing their next of kin and ensuring their car was safe.

In a letter to the officers the couple wrote: “We are writing to thank the two officers from the bottom of our hearts for their efforts in rescuing us. Their conduct was exemplary and their kindness and consideration were beyond praise. Please accept this £20 as a token of our gratitude and donate to a police charity of your choice.”

The officers have donated the money to the police charity Embrace: Child Victims of Crime (CVOC).

PC Saddique said: “We appreciate the couple’s kind donation to charity and their gratitude, I was just thankful myself and the brave member of the public were able to rescue them. They were in the water for quite some time, but because they held onto each other they were able to stop each other from going under and in effect saved each other’s lives, which shows what a strong relationship they had. They were even arguing over who was going to be rescued first.

“We would like to remind members of the public to take care if they are walking by the edge of a river, banks may be slippery or slope away suddenly or be unstable and crumble, especially when paths are narrow.”

The accident happened near to the spot where a 15-year-old boy drowned whilst swimming three years ago.

PC Saddique added: “As the warmer weather continues people may be tempted to jump into the nearest river or lake to cool off and we want to highlight the dangers of swimming in unsupervised open water.”