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Police hero saves drowning woman

PUBLISHED: 18:17 14 February 2008 | UPDATED: 10:26 03 July 2010

Laura Bagshaw

A POLICE officer jumped into the icy waters of the River Yare to rescue a drowning woman.

An emotional PC Mark Grimmer told how he saved a 41-year-old woman who had told him “Just let go of me, I want to die.

A POLICE officer jumped into the icy waters of the River Yare to rescue a drowning woman.

An emotional PC Mark Grimmer told how he saved a 41-year-old woman who had told him “Just let go of me, I want to die.”

The dramatic rescue happened on Wednesday just after 7pm when police received reports that a woman was threatening to jump in the river.

PC Grimmer, 46, drove to the riverside at Gorleston, close to the King William pub, where he found the woman sitting on the river wall with her legs dangling over the edge, looking out towards sea.

After calling for assistance, he removed his stab vest and rig belt to put on a life jacket from his police car.

“I knew I would have to do something if she did jump,” he said.

As a fellow officer attempted to try to persuade the woman to move to safety, she suddenly raised her voice and pushed herself off the wall, plunging eight feet into the ebbing tide.

“I threw a life ring to her but it missed,” said PC Grimmer. He climbed down the steps on the river wall to get close to the woman. “I threw her a buoyancy aid with a rope which she grabbed. I tried to calm her by talking while pulling her in. I managed to grab her hand at one point but she broke away and let go of the aid.”

PC Grimmer added: “The lady told me to just let go because she wanted to die.”

But taking his life into his own hands, quick-thinking PC Grimmer jumped in the river and swam towards the woman, grabbing her.

“We were in the water for about four or five minutes and I could feel my fingers had gone numb. A small tugboat went past and created a swell which almost pushed us up against the river wall. The tug put its lights on us and I managed to get my foot underneath the lady's feet to keep her up.

“That was the worst part,” he said. “I acted on instinct and just did what was necessary.”

Coastguards alerted the nearby Gorleston lifeboat at about 7.15pm and within three minutes they had arrived on scene at Brush Bend.

Crew members Andy Mason, Andy Tyrrell and Neil Parker struggled to get the woman on board.

Helmsman Mr Mason said: “She was very distressed and didn't want to come on the boat but we eventually hauled both of them on board. The tide was ebbing so if the officer hadn't have been there she would have been swept out to sea.”

They were taken to the Riverside Road lifeboat station and warmed up before being taken to the James Paget University Hospital by paramedics where they received treatment for hypothermia. PC Grimmer was discharged from hospital last night.

The woman's family were contacted and went to the hospital and thanked PC Grimmer for his brave actions.

Five years ago PC Grimmer won the Queen's Commendation for Bravery for tackling an armed gunman and Sgt Lewis Craske, who oversaw Wednesday's operation, has nominated PC Grimmer for a Royal Humane Society Award.

Gorleston Inspector Paul McCarthy, who was at the scene throughout, said: “I think PC Grimmer's actions demonstrate the high level of commitment of my officers to the safety and security of the communities they police.

“PC Grimmer was willing to put his own safety at risk to help this woman and I am extremely proud of his efforts and pleased that the situation was resolved without any injuries to any of the individuals concerned.”

Mario Siano, watch manager for Yarmouth Coastguard, praised PC Grimmer's bravery but stressed people should not to jump in the river.

He said: “As the River Yare flows through, it empties and fills the entire Broads area and runs at about five or six miles per hour. “Because of the sheer speed of the tide and turbulence you can easily be dragged under, it's a very dangerous river.

“The officer was very brave. I know all emergency service workers are told not to jump into the river but it's a human thing. If you think you can save somebody's life you will.”

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