Rescuers who risked their lives for a flood victim trapped on the roof of her submerged car for 12 hours overnight said what they did was “human nature”.
The unnamed 62-year-old was developing hypothermia by the time Geoff Handley, 63, son Adam, 21, and Mark Smith, 51, leapt into action.
Geoff saw her at 7.50am on Monday as he walked his dog in Monmouth.
He said: “I shouted, ‘Are you all right?’ and she simply said ‘No, help me, please save me.’ The water was flowing fast and I knew even if I got out to her we both could get washed away.”
He called for help and passer-by Mark answered, stripping off his shirt and wading in. Mark said: “When I saw the woman I didn’t really think, I just knew I had to get out to her.
“When I got out to the car and gave her my coat I just hugged her and talked to her to make sure she was OK.
“But she was in a bad way, slipping in and out of consciousness. It was then, sat on top of the car, in the fast-flowing water, I thought this should actually be terrifying, we could be swept away. I suppose the adrenaline kicks in and you get on with it.”
Mark, an oil company worker from nearby Colesford, took it in turns with Geoff to swim to and from the car to keep the woman warm.
Engineer Geoff said: “How she survived is beyond me, she is a very strong lady.” Worried about his dad’s whereabouts, Adam arrived and got stuck in too. The trio then swam her downriver to a woodland clearing and on to the bank.
Adam said: “We knew we could not have left her on that car, when we got her on to land you see her hands were so pale and her lips were blue.”
By this point they had reached the fire brigade – but had to wait an hour while a boat was despatched. Geoff said: “We were cuddling her to keep her warm and then finally some firemen made it through the woods.”
The woman, thought to have been in the area on business, climbed on to her roof after driving into the flooded area and getting stuck with no phone signal.
She was taken to hospital and should fully recover. Paul Bird, of Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service, said: “They did a cracking job. They put themselves in danger, they should be recognised.” Locals said the men were “true heroes” who deserved medals.
But Geoff said: “I am no hero, most people would have done something. I just hope that is human nature.”
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