HERO teenager Sam Clow has vowed to continue life-saving after he was attacked by the drowning man he was trying to rescue.
The young RNLI volunteer, who turns 18 today, was on duty when he was called to the rescue of a man who was struggling in the river near Wearmouth Bridge.
But as Sam, of Fulwell, went to pluck the man out of the water he was brutally attacked by him, punched in the face and left with a broken nose.
He was taken to Sunderland Royal Hospital where he was treated for his injuries.
The rescued man was taken back to Sunderland Marina, where paramedics were waiting to check him over.
Sam, who has been with the RNLI for a year, said: “I was really surprised when it happened because you don’t expect something like this when you’re helping someone.
“He broke my nose and I had to go to hospital to have my injuries checked over.
“I have to go back on Friday, once the swelling has gone down, and I’ll find out what needs doing then.”
Sam, who has been a member of Sunderland Yacht Club for six years and a member of the Sea Scouts for four years, joined the RNLI at the earliest age he could in a bid to help the community.
But he has vowed not to let the incident put him off his good work with the RNLI.
The apprentice electrical engineer said: “I felt joining the RNLI was a natural way for me to put to use the skills and knowledge I have learnt at the yacht club, doing something I enjoy, while putting something back into my local community.
“The incident has definitely not put me off continuing my volunteering with the RNLI as the appreciation of our help from the majority of our casualties far outweighs the problems I encountered on Sunday.”
Paul Nicholson, senior helmsman at Sunderland RNLI, said: “Thankfully, this type of incident is not a regular occurrence for our volunteers both locally and nationally.
“In the 15 years I have been involved with the charity this the first occasion I can recall when one of our volunteers has been violently attacked during a rescue mission.
“The dangers associated with these types incidents on an inshore lifeboat are heightened even further due to the risk of falling overboard.”
The incident took place on Sunday at about 4.30pm, after a concerned call from a passer-by who spotted the man in the water below St Mary’s car park.
A Northumbria Police spokeswoman said inquiries are ongoing.