THREE police officers have been honoured for saving the life of a drink-driver who tried to escape by jumping into a river at night.
Constables David Robinson, Andrew Maclean and Gary Ramsey have been presented with commendations from the Royal Humane Society, after they sprung into action on a Sunday night in March last year.
Pc Maclean and a colleague were out on patrol when they were asked to pursue a Vauxhall Astra on the A167, between the Cock ’o the North roundabout and Littleburn Industrial Estate, on the outskirts of Durham City.
The Astra had been seen in suspicious circumstances behind a supermarket, and had been driven off when police tried to pull the car over.
Within a short space of time the vehicle crashed into a fence and the driver ran into the woods by the River Browney.
The force’s helicopter was scrambled to the scene and found the driver, a 22-year-old from Brandon, in the water.
Pc Robinson waded into the icy cold river to reach the man, who had just his face showing above the waterline and was starting to suffer from hypothermia.
Pc Ramsey and Pc Maclean also jumped in and they managed to drag the suspect clear.
An ambulance was called, but the closest it could park was a spot about half-a-mile away up steep, dense terrain.
As the victim was unable to walk, the officers had to carry him to the ambulance.
Paramedics took him to hospital where he was given treatment, as his body temperature was just 33°C. The normal temperature is 37 to 37.5°C.
He went on to make a full recovery and was later convicted of driving while over the limit.
Durham Constabulary’s Chief Constable Jon Stoddart said: “Based on the driver’s condition when he arrived at A&E, and the length of time he spent in the river, he is unlikely to have survived without the efforts of the three officers.
“Their actions remind us that on many occasions police officers put themselves at considerable risk to help others.
“I am delighted the Royal Humane Society has recognised their actions.”