Hero Steve dives in to rescue woman after her car careers off road and into 12ft Fenland drain at Parson Drove near Wisbech
PUBLISHED: 17:28 03 May 2017 | UPDATED: 17:37 03 May 2017
A 35-year-old man has spoken of the night he entered a 12ft deep Fenland drain to rescue a woman who was trapped in her car after careering through protective railings around a bridge.
Steve Jones was visiting his parents at their Parson Drove home near Wisbech on Sunday night when he heard “this almighty sound” as the car went into the water.
“We had just seen the car lights flashing past our windows – the house has large windows and it seemed at the time as if the car was airborne,” he said.
He quickly put his trainers on, took a torch and headed for the riverbank “to hear a woman screaming – some of the worst sounds I have ever heard”.
Mr Jones said: “I told my dad I was going in – my wife called the emergency services and I said to make sure someone is on the river bank. The driver had impacted the railings, missed the bridge (which is just as well because the impact of that could have been even more serious) and went through the railings into the water.”
Mr Jones said: “I jumped into the water – the first thing I did was to check the back seat to see if there were any kids on board. I heard only one voice but couldn’t find anything.
“I went under the water, stuck my hand through the driver’s window and couldn’t feel anything.
“I then put my hand through the back seat passenger door but could still feel nothing there except shards of glass. I went under the water to unlock the door – it had an auto locking feature, and I knew it was a Passat, a car I am familiar with”.
Mr Jones slowly unlocked the car “I could hear the mechanism go and then had to come up for air – but I could still hear the voice screaming.
“I went to the other side of the car and realised the driver must have flung herself into the passenger side – I went under the water to get to the passenger door, opened it gently and then went into the car and had a feel around. Eventually I found something and pulled as hard as I could to pull it open.”
He said the woman started pulling “and she was resisting at that stage but I realised I needed to get her out. I pulled her out and she was coughing up water – she clearly had her lungs full of it.”
He said: “I said to her abruptly is there anyone else in the car and she ‘no’ she was the only one. At that point we moved to the back of the car – I felt my body going into breakdown.”
Mr Jones said he shouted to his parents who were on the river bank that he was coming ashore.
“I said to the woman ‘let me drag you- if you fight this you will drown. By now she was compliant and at this stage calm. She got out of the water firstly onto a fishing platform.
“Then I got out, my mum threw down loads of towels and I ended up lying on top of the woman to stop her losing consciousness and to warm her up – by now she was hysterical again.”
He said he managed then to calm her and she realised she was safe finally.
“She said ‘oh my God – you’ve saved my life’. I was still worried she might get hypothermia. “
He said the emergency services were by then on the scene “they were fantastic and took control of the situation and calmed everyone down. There were people shouting at me whilst I was in the river.”
Mr Jones said the fire service did the right thing by putting ladders down – they wrapped her in a towel, talking her through it and getting her to breathe normally. “Eventually they got the ladder down and a fire man took her to safety – I followed suit.”
Mr Jones said: “I know situations like this do occur – I do a lot of driving and am always prepared for a situation like this. The water was extremely cold – I could hear her screaming and could see the car sinking.
“I know if I had not been there that woman would have drowned – the fire chiefs told me I had saved her life.”
His father said it was the eighth incident he had witnessed at the bridge since moving to the area 13 months ago – and the second time he’d seen a vehicle enter the water.
“It’s been harrowing to sit here and watch these smashes,” he said. “You would be amazed at how many near misses we have witnessed too.
Mr Jones said he was actively pursuing both Lincolnshire and Cambridgeshire councils (the village is on the border of both counties) to improve signage and get additional speed limits introduced.
He too was proud of his son and said he was not at all surprised he had jumped in to save the woman driver.
“Once he met his wife Becky he’s been on a crusade to help people,” he said. “This has been their life so I was not at all surprised – the woman was extremely lucky.”
Mr Jones said he as well as campaigning for improvements he would, in future, leave a rope near his front door just in case it was needed.
Police and emergency services were called at 9.19pm on Sunday after the car left the road on The Bank junction with Marshals Bank, Parson Drove, and it entered into water.
Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue, East of England Ambulance Service, HART and the East of England Air Ambulance attended along with police officers.
A police spokesman said: “The driver has since been arrested on suspicion of drink driving and has been taken to the Police Investigation Centre at Kings Lynn. “Inquiries are ongoing.”
A 58-year-old woman from Spalding will appear before Peterborough magistrates on May 17 on a drink driving charge.