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Sunday 4 December 2016

Heroic garda beats fear of water to save man's life

Michelle O'Keeffe

Published 20/05/2011 | 05:00

A HEROIC garda saved a drowning man's life after he dived into a river to rescue him -- despite being unable to swim.

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Courageous garda Jonathan Gallagher (26) is now being put forward for a bravery award, after combating his fear of water and rescuing the struggling man.

On Wednesday evening, Gda Gallagher heard the man shouting for help and spotted him in trouble in the River Boyne at Drogheda, Co Louth.

He immediately jumped in to rescue him.

"I hate the water and can't swim but at garda training at Templemore we are taught how to stay afloat in emergency situations.

"I have a real fear of water, but when I saw the man's head going under the water I knew I had to do something," Gda Gallagher, from Co Derry, said.

It is understood the man, who does not wished to be named, slipped and fell into the river before getting into trouble.

He had stopped breathing by the time he was pulled from the water and was immediately brought to hospital where he is now recovering.

"He was moving away with the tide and I knew I had to act so I went in after him.

"I managed to get him to the side and put my fingers into his mouth to open his airwaves and he coughed up water and started to breathe again."

Despite his heroics, Gda Gallagher was humble about the feat.

He said: "I had no choice, I couldn't watch him drown in front of me so I decided to go in after him.

"While I was in the water trying to save him I was in the zone. But once I got him safely into the rescue service's boat ,the fear gripped me again -- I fairly hung onto the side of that boat."

A nearby lifebuoy, which was thrown into the river by Gda Gallagher's colleague, proved essential.

"Thank god the lifebuoy was where it should be and had not been taken; they save peoples' lives," he added.

Passer-by Michael Collins also jumped into the water to save the man, and helped Gda Gallagher and the river rescue services get him on board the boat.

Irish Independent

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