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Archive - Friday, 5 February 2010
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Police Officer rescues woman from Thames in Kingston - despite fear of water
A police officer with a fear of water has been praised for his quick-thinking, after commandeering a boat to save a drowning woman from the freezing River Thames.
Officer afraid of water rescues woman from Thames in Kingston
The woman entered the water at Kingston Bridge on Saturday, January 23, at about 8.20pm and officers rushed to the river’s edge in an attempt to locate her in the darkness.
PC Andy Cougar made his way to Railway Wharf looking for life rings, when he came across houseboat owners Mary, 57, and Hilary Graham, 59.
Mr Graham told PC Cougar he had a small launch on the side of his boat and, without a second thought, PC Cougar climbed on board Buster with the couple and set off downstream in search of the woman.
But if the Grahams are unsuccessful in fighting Kingston Council and the Environment Agency’s planned eviction of the boat from Railway Wharf early next month, they will be evicted and unable to help in the future.
PC Cougar said “without a doubt” if the boats were not there then the outcome would have been very different.
As the boat began the search, PC Duncan Greville-Giddings followed alongside on the banks, shouting directions, and within five minutes of the emergency call being made, with the help of a search helicopter, the woman was located in the water.
PC Cougar was modest about his involvement and said: “Letting us use the boat was a wonderful gesture and it took so much skill to get there and pull the woman from the water. They were great. I went home and told my wife about it. Without them it wouldn’t have happened so all credit to them.”
But if PC Cougar had not conquered his dislike of water and bravely hauled the woman out and on to the safety on Stephen’s Ait, the outcome may have been different as well.
He said: “I don’t like being out of my depth, I really don’t, but you don’t think about it.”
It is not the first time the couple have used their boat Buster to save people from the river, but it is the first time they have worked so closely with police, and Mrs Graham gave them her mobile number so they can help if a similar incident occurs again.
She said: “It was brilliant, they arrived at just the right moment. We just feel really proud to have been part of such a fantastically well executed exercise.”
RNLI operations manager Malcolm Miatt, who attended the scene, said: “It would have been absolutely bitter in there. The life expectancy is quite low when people fall in there and she was travelling really fast down the river.
“It could have ended very differently if the police didn’t act as fast as they did.”
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