Hero cops praised for 'last chance' Shrewsbury river rescue

Two hero police officers who risked their own lives to save a man from the River Severn in Shrewsbury were nominated for a national bravery award.

The man was rescued from the Severn in Shrewsbury. Photo: Andy Cunningham
The man was rescued from the Severn in Shrewsbury. Photo: Andy Cunningham

Quick-thinking constables Lee Phillips and Christopher Donovan plunged into the river to pluck the man from the cold waters which had been swollen by recent rainfall.

Sarah Cooper, who chairs the West Mercia branch of the rank and file West Mercia Police Federation, nominated the duo for their actions.

"Their rapid response and their bravery saved this man’s life,” said Sarah.

"They used their local knowledge to pre-empt where this man would be swept to when they knew he was struggling in the river and were incredibly quick-thinking in their actions."

West Mercia Police had been called in the early hours of February 2, 2019 to reports of a man behaving inappropriately in Shrewsbury town centre.

Pc Phillips and Pc Donovan were two of several officers deployed to the incident and attempted to speak to the man involved but he suddenly ran off.

He was located close to the Gateway Centre but again ran from the officers and jumped over a fence down to the riverside. He was next seen swimming downstream.

The two Pcs initially remained on land and kept sight of him while calling for support from other emergency services, but the man was struggling in the water.

Realising they needed to act before the man was swept away, the two brave officers seized the only opportunity they had to rescue the vulnerable man by forcing entry to the back of a café. They then entered the water and pulled him out before he went under again.

The officers gave initial first aid and provided him with a foil blanket before the ambulance service arrived.

The officers were honoured at the Police Bravery Awards ceremony on Tuesday.

Sarah said: “There’s no doubt that without the bravery, commitment and diligence of Pc Phillips and Pc Donovan this man would have remained in the freezing river and would likely have died as sadly many people have done in Shrewsbury in the past.

“These officers deserve the gratitude of the police family and public as a whole.”

The annual Police Bravery Awards, sponsored by Police Mutual, honour some of the finest officers in England and Wales who have performed incredible acts of bravery, while on or off duty.

The ceremony was due to be held in London in July last year but was postponed due to the pandemic.

The awards were staged in London but the West Mercia duo didn't win.

A total of 94 brave officers from forces across England and Wales were put forward for an award.

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