Heroes of River Ouse rescue drama in Lewes

Muddy heroes: Lee Samson (left) and Liam Walker minutes after the dramatic rescue beneath Wiley's Bridge
Muddy heroes: Lee Samson (left) and Liam Walker minutes after the dramatic rescue beneath Wiley's Bridge

A woman was rescued from the freezing waters of the River Ouse on Wednesday evening (January 10) by two passers-by who heard her fall in.

Friends Lee Samson and Liam Walker were on their way home and crossing Wiley’s Bridge near Tesco when they heard a loud splash.

Liam, 26, said: “I thought it was a duck or something and looked down. I couldn’t believe it when I saw the body of a woman floating down there in the river. We ran back across the bridge and down onto the bank. I shouted to Lee to phone the police and slid down the bank to try to reach the woman.

“She was not moving but I could see she was breathing. I just couldn’t reach her. The water was freezing and I was clinging onto grass to stop myself sliding in completely myself. I was talking to her but she was not conscious, so I shouted and shouted for her to try to move in towards us. I said: ‘Come on, you will be alright, we will get you’.

“I had one hand stretched out to the lady and Lee was higher up the bank holding my other arm to stop me falling. It was agonising. I was two inches away from reaching her but I just couldn’t stretch any further. At last her hand moved toward me, just a little but it was enough. I managed to wrap the end of two fingers around hers, and pulled her in toward the bank.

“Another chap who was passing ran down to help. We both got one arm under her and somehow lifted her out. She had a coat on and the water made everything very heavy, but somehow we did it. Must have been the adrenaline rushing around that gave us the strength. We got the lady onto the bank and put her on her side to get water out.

“Then by pure luck two off-duty police officers came by. They were walking their dog. We were so lucky they were there because the lady stopped breathing and the police officers gave her the kiss of life. Moments later the medics and everyone else arrived, including the police and firefighters.”

Liam, an unemployed roofer, and roofer Lee, 45, both of Old Malling Way, Lewes, were both clearly shaken as they spoke to the Express minutes after the rescue, their clothes covered in mud from the riverbank.

Lee said: “We are just glad that we were passing and able to help. I am sure it would have been a different story if we had not been here, so thank goodness for that.”