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Man saved in dramatic late-night river rescue in Shipley
A man is lucky to be alive today after a dramatic late-night river rescue.
Emergency service rescuers had to use flashlights in the dark to follow the mans's desperate cries for help until they found him clinging onto tree roots about 70-metres downstream from the bridge at Dock Lane, Shipley.
The alarm was raised just after 10pm yesterday after people in a nearby flat heard shouting through their open window from the swollen river.
Crew commander Matt Wolski said rescuers got to the man and dragged him out: ‘‘It was a case of hands on him and get him out. We just dragged him. He was suffering the effects of the cold and was very confused.’’
The man, aged 39 and from Shipley, was wrapped in space blankets and taken to hospital while rescuers continued to search two miles further downstream with thermal imaging cameras – South Yorkshire Police’s helicopter was also brought in to aid the search because of a fault on West Yorkshire’s thermal camera.
‘‘Because the man wasn't making much sense we couldn’t be sure he had been by himself and that no one else was in the water so we continued the search – luckily it was just him but we had to be certain.
‘‘I’m not sure how he ended up in the water but it’s a poorly-lit area and the towpath isn’t in the greatest condition, he could have just tripped.’’
Crew commander Wolski added: ‘‘The water would have been freezing. I don’t know how long he’d been in it but at that temperature he could have had just minutes if that before losing his grip on those roots. He’s extremely lucky to be alive.
‘‘If it wasn’t for the men in the flat having their window open on a cold, windy, wet night and hearing him shout for help, it might have been a very different ending.’’
He said people should always take extra care when walking on towpaths alone in the dark and added: ‘‘Especially at this time of the year. We’ve had lots of rain so the river is very swollen. We’ve got weather warnings coming in for the next few days so it's going to be very blustery and rough, people need to be cautious.’’