A DONCASTER angler was recovering yesterday after he was rescued from a fast-flowing river in a dramatic swoop by the South Yorkshire Police helicopter crew.
The man in his 50s fell into the River Don near Bentley Ings on Sunday evening while fishing with a friend, who hung on to him for about an hour before help arrived.
The secluded location of the incident, on the north bank of the river behind flood banks, made it difficult for the emergency services to locate them as darkness fell.
Initial reports gave police the impression they were on the Wheatley side of the river but when the police helicopter arrived the crew used their thermal imaging camera to locate the men, who appeared to be in a great deal of distress.
Observer Gary Thomas said: “We could see one man had waded into the water trying to get his friend out. The water was up to his chest and we’d been told he’d already been in the water for an hour.
“All the other emergency resources were on the other bank so we took the decision to land on the bank.”
The Don was flowing faster than usual at the weekend because of the amount of rainfall it has been taking from other parts of Yorkshire.
Pilot Matt Loosemore and the two observers, Pcs Zoe Jobling and Gary, left the helicopter taking a flotation device and safety ropes which they got under his arms to haul him out of the water.
PC Thomas stayed with the men while the helicoper went airborne again to direct paramedics and South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue teams to the right place.
“We didn’t know how much longer he could hang on for so we had to take immediate action. He was obviously very wet, cold and a bit distressed so we got his wet clothes off and I stayed with him.
“This is the sort of thing we do from time to time and on this occasion we were the best resources available to do the job,” said Pc Thomas.
The man’s condition was not thought to be serious.