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Fireman in river rescue drama

A SCHOOLBOY was saved from almost certain death by a firefighter who plucked him from the swollen waters of the River Dane.

A SCHOOLBOY was saved from almost certain death by a firefighter who plucked him from the swollen waters of the River Dane.

Martin Shaw, 10, had been canoeing with friends on Monday when his boat capsized. He was swept downriver in the fast-flowing water until he managed to grab hold of a branch.

He is thought to have been in the river for about an hour and was almost on the point of being swept away when he was brought to safety.

His rescuer, 27-year-old Northwich firefighter Ian Dunbar, risked his own life to reach him, battling against the current with water up to his neck.

Martin, a pupil at Weaverham's Wallerscote Primary School, was taken to hospital suffering from mild hypothermia but is now back home at Danefield Road, having made a complete recovery after his ordeal.

His mum Serena paid tribute to the bravery of Martin's rescuers and urged other children to stay way from the fast-flowing river.

'I am so relieved and very grateful to the people who helped Martin,' said Serena, whose husband Colin was at work while the drama unfolded.

'As soon as I heard what was happening, I rushed down there. I want to say a big thank you to the emergency services.

'I also want to thank my neighbours for their help. One of my friends was walking home when I rushed out and I just grabbed her and told her to stay there and look after my other children while I went down to the river.

'I do drum the importance of staying away from the river into all three of my children, especially as we live so near it. It was a one-off for Martin to be canoeing and he must have panicked.'

Emergency services had to walk across two fields to reach the river bank at the back of Carlton Road after the boy's friends raised the alarm.

Police officers tried to calm him by keeping him talking until the four-man rescue team arrived.

Northwich Fire Station sub-officer Steve Burrage, who was in charge of the operation, said the boy was waist-deep in water, clinging to a branch in the middle of the river.

'It seems he had been in a canoe further up river, somehow fallen out and swept downstream until he ran into the branch and grabbed hold,' said Mr Burrage.

'We were told he had been in the river quite a while. He was shivering and the police were talking to him to keep him calm.'

With no time to spare, firefighter Dunbar stripped off his uniform and with a rescue line attached to him, waded into the water.

'We used a tree as a pully and fed the line out to him,' said Mr Burrage.

'The river was flowing very fast indeed because of all the rain we have had and Ian lost his footing once or twice. I cannot praise Ian's bravery enough. It was an extremely dangerous situation.

'When he reached the boy, he pulled him off the branch and waded back with him. The boy was extremely tired at that point because he had been in the water such a long time. If he had been in any longer, he would have been swept down river.'

Once on dry land, Martin was treated for the effects of hypothermia before being taken to Leighton Hospital.

He has made a full recovery ­- and pledged to stay from the river!


David Holmes
Chief News Reporter
David Norbury
Mike Fuller
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