Pensioner dragged from freezing water in Sheffield nature reserve by life-saving construction workers

Heroic construction workers in Sheffield saved a pensioner's life by pulling him from the freezing water after he plunged into a pond in his mobility scooter.

Tuesday, 8th November 2016, 3:20 pm
Updated Friday, 18th November 2016, 11:21 am
Nik Laughton (left) and Liam Haigh at the scene of the dramatic rescue in Shire Brook Valley Local Nature Reserve, Sheffield

Michael Brunnitt was taking a ride through Shire Brook Valley Local Nature Reserve last Thursday, November 3, when he lost his balance and toppled around a metre into the water.

The 69-year-old, who lives in Hackenthorpe, was trapped chest down, struggling to keep his head above water, and his increasingly desperate shouts for help initially went unanswered.

But two construction workers who were laying a path at the beauty spot near Woodhouse that morning eventually heard his pleas and rushed to his aid.

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Nik Laughton and Liam Haigh, who work for CML (Construction Marine Limited), at first mistook his cries for those of a dog walker calling his pet, but leapt into action when they realised what was happening.

They dived in and dragged Michael to the edge of the pond, before hauling him onto dry land with the help of a passing walker.

Nik wrapped his coat around the shivering pensioner, who paramedics said would probably have perished had he spent 15 minutes longer in the water.

Michael, who had been in the pond for around 20 minutes, was taken to hospital with hypothermia but was discharged later that day with no lasting injuries.

Nik later delivered Michael's mobility scooter to his home, and both he and the site supervisor Leon Foley visited the following day to check he was OK.

Liam said when he saw Michael struggling his first thought was 'just get him out'.

"It took us about 10 minutes to drag him out as he was freezing and kept needing to get his breath," said the 24-year-old, who lives in Thurnscoe, Barnsley.

"Once he was out we tried to keep the conversation going while we waited for the ambulance, and we're so happy he was OK."

Nik said the water was 'freezing' that morning but modestly claimed 'anyone would have done the same'.

"We heard someone shouting but we couldn't see anything so assumed they were just calling for their dog," said the 31-year-old, of Ravenfield, Rotherham.

"It was only when I went to get a shovel from the van that I saw him struggling in the water and Liam and I sprinted over.

"Instinct kicked in and we both jumped in and did what we could. It was first thing in the morning and the water was freezing but anyone would have done the same."

Charles Mortimer, managing director of CML, hailed the duo's actions, saying: "Both Liam and Nik were unselfish and put the welfare of Mr Brunnitt before their own.

"They deserve commendation for the way they reacted to this potentially life-threatening situation."