The crew of a cargo ship told how they helped save a drowning man from the Thames.
The Polla Rose was leaving Comley’s Wharf in Fulham early on Tuesday morning when the three-man crew spotted the man in the water screaming for help.
They sprang into action and used the tide and the hull of the 700-tonne ship to try to manoeuvre him towards shallower water.
A police officer risked her life in the rescue by climbing down a pilot ladder on the side of the ship and into the water when she saw he was struggling to stay afloat.
The police constable, based at Hammersmith and Fulham, stayed with the man holding his head above the water for a number of minutes until a marine police unit arrived.
A Met spokeswoman praised the actions of the officer saying they went above the call of duty.
The 40-year-old victim was said to be recovering in hospital.
The rescue effort took place at around 3.10am near the Fulham Riverside development. Master Kevin Hughes, 36, was in charge of the vessel along with mate Connor Keeshan, 21, and deck hand Alan Mole, 18.
They spotted the man and knew the nearest police boat was at Wapping and would not reach him in time. Mr Hughes said: “He was shouting, ‘Help me, I’m drowning’. I made the decision, bearing in mind how long the police would take, to have a go at saving him.”
“He was clearly distressed and in grave danger. We caught up with him between Imperial Wharf and where the Sainsbury’s is, and the mate managed to get a life ring to him. But he was disappearing under the water, so we got alongside him.”
Mr Hughes saw police on the bank and pulled in close so they could board, before getting nearer to the stricken man.
Mr Keeshan got a ladder to lower into the water and a female police officer decided to climb down to get him.
Mr Hughes said: “Although she was instructed not to, she lowered herself down the ladder and grabbed hold of him by the scruff of the neck and held him until police boats turned up.“
“He was struggling to stay afloat. It was very cold in the water, perhaps around 10 degrees.“
“When the police boat turned up, they tried to get him out but the police officer fell into the river as well. So by now we had two casualties in the water.”
“Luckily the lifeboat turned up and recovered the two people quickly.”
Polla Rose owners Thames Shipping Ltd said: “We commend Kevin and the crew for their instinctive reactions — this is a testament to their calibre and their commitment to their profession.”
“To manoeuvre this vessel appropriately and conduct an effective rescue is simply brilliant.”
A police spokesman said local officers and officers from the Marine Policing Unit attended. The man was taken to a west London hospital “with injuries that were not thought to be life-threatening”.
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Source: Evening Standard