Taking the plunge into Sheffield Canal was key to success

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When Douglas Connor watched his keys sink agonisingly to the bottom of Sheffield Canal, he thought he’d seen the last of them.

But that was before two wetsuit-clad Good Samaritans plunged into the murky waters to the rescue.

Divers Gareth Davison, aged 30, and Steve Hird, 55, fished through discarded beer cans and traffic cones - and even navigated a passing party boat - before striking upon the keys.

And, miraculously, Douglas’ electronic car key fob survived the ordeal - remaining in perfect working order after two days underwater.

Douglas, aged 39, from Malin Bridge, had been walking with friends alongside the canal in Attercliffe when he slipped over in mud.

He said: “My friends went to the left to walk around a huge puddle but I tried to be clever and went to the right. I slipped and nearly fell in.

“I’d just managed to pull myself away from the edge when I heard this ‘clink clink plop’ and saw my keys – my two house keys and two car keys - all sinking into the canal.

“We got a large branch and, using that, we worked out that it was at least six or seven feet deep. It later turned out that it was actually eight or nine.”

Douglas, who lives close to Diveworld on Holme Lane, hit upon the idea of visiting the diving centre to see if they could help.

Owner Steve, also from Malin Bridge, called in diving instructor Gareth - and together with Douglas they returned to the canal two evenings later, armed with a magnet.

Gareth, of Hillsborough, said: “Steve went in first but had to leave the water after 10 or 15 minutes because a party boat was passing by!

“After that I spent five or 10 minutes feeling around down there - and then I spotted a glint of shiny metal among all the beer cans. It turned out to be Douglas’s keys.”

“There were clouds of muck and visibility was only about two or three inches. I did think, ‘I can’t see us finding it in here’. So it felt like quite an achievement - and Douglas was really happy.”

Douglas, who worked for a printing firm before being made redundant three weeks ago, said: “Gareth and Steve were fantastic. I’m really grateful.

“You live in hope but I must admit I didn’t have much hope of them finding the keys.

“But they obviously love to dive and they were fantastic. They got out there and did their thing.”

For Gareth, who had just returned from a diving holiday in the Maldives, the murky depths of Sheffield Canal proved a startling change of scene. “We didn’t know what we’d find in there,” he said. “It was a good introduction back to British diving.”

Douglas added: “I’m staying away from water from now on!”