‘Distressed’ 56-year-old man saved from drowning as he is pulled from river

A MAN who had just walked away from hospital was saved from drowning by police and relatives.

The 56-year-old had left Fairfield Hospital, Bury, in a distressed state just after 5.30am on Saturday, sparking a major search.

He was spotted in the darkness floundering in the nearby River Roch.

Insp Dave Ryecroft, of Bury Police, said: “The search was a major task as the valley is difficult terrain and is steeply inclined towards the fast-flowing river.

“Sergeant Richard Hargreaves found the man in the river in a state of utter exhaustion, freezing cold and close to succumbing to the fast-flowing current.

“The rescue was a tremendous effort in the circumstances and one worthy of recognition.”

Insp Ryecroft singled out Sgt Hargreaves, his colleague PC Justin Webster and the man’s family members for praise.

Police began their search of the valley at the back of the hospital where the man had been seen by a relative.

Sgt Hargreaves and his colleagues ran to the river and managed to pull the man, who weighs more than 15 stone, out of the water.

Insp Ryecroft said: “The man was waist deep and the banks of the river were vertical and wet. His head sat below the level of the bank, so he was very difficult to see, never mind extract.

“It was imperative to get him out as other emergency services were some time away. This meant physically lifting him out from a weak vantage point that offered little in the way of leverage.

“It was a testing situation, even for a properly equipped rescue team, and one not without risk to those involved.”

Firefighters arrived at the scene and used a rope to pull the man up the embankment.

Watch manager Pete Fletcher, from Bury Fire Station, said: “We had to use rope rescue equipment to haul him up the bank. The river was approximately 50 metres from the nearest path. We probably had to carry the man about half a mile.”

The man was given first aid at the scene before being taken to hospital by ambulance.

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