A SCHOOLBOY has hailed the hero bobbies who saved his life after he plunged into the icy sea when a fishing trip went horribly wrong.
Dean Kerr, 15, hung on to a pole for dear life after splashing into the rough seas while fishing off Hartlepool’s North Gare pier, near Seaton Carew.
He spoke of his ordeal after hearing how the three policemen who plucked him from the sea in a dramatic rescue operation had been honoured for their bravery.
PC Steven Teasdale, PC Derric Wade and Police Community Support Officer Andrew Douglas ran a mile to help the stricken teenager, and braved the treacherous conditions to haul him 30ft to safety.
PC Wade and PC Teasdale’s efforts were even more remarkable given the fact that neither of them can swim.
All three were given the Timlin Award for their heroic efforts at Hartlepool Police’s District Commander Commendation ceremony, which saw dozens of men and women honoured for their services to policing in the town.
Dean paid his own tribute to the fearless trio, who risked their own lives in an attempt to save his.
He said: “If they weren’t there, I wouldn’t be here. It’s that simple.
“I’m really thankful for what they did and the risk they took to save me.”
The three officers sprinted across sand dunes and Seaton Carew golf course after getting a phonecall from Dean’s distressed friend Jordan Shape, 15, at 2.30pm on May 26, last year.
Dean had slipped on the pier and couldn’t stop himself falling into the waves below.
He was battered about in the swell and was unable to get out. Exhausted, he eventually grabbed hold of a pole and waited for help.
The Manor College of Technology pupil, from Jura Grove, Hartlepool, said: “It was freezing. I was shivering and tired and couldn’t get out. I was in shock.
“Then the police appeared and saved me. They were brilliant.”
The officers made their way to waters edge and fought against high winds and strong waves to see Dean.
They decided there wasn’t time to wait for a lifeboat and climbed down the rocky edge, using a rope to stop them all falling into the sea.
They threw a life ring to the stricken teen and hauled him to safety, using themselves as counter weights on the slippy concrete.
The youngster was taken to the University Hospital of North Tees, in Stockton, where he was tested for hypothermia, but was released later the same day with just a sprained ankle.
His mum, Valerie, 40, a cleaner who is also mother to Aaron, 21, and 12-year-old Dylan, said: “They saved my son’s life and deserve all the praise they get.”
PC Teasdale, PC Wade and PCSO Douglas were among a host of men and women to be honoured during last night’s celebrations at Hartlepool Historic Quay.
An emotive memorial award, The Timlin Plaque is given to officers who put their own lives on the line to save others.
PC Wade admitted that he and PC Teasdale braved the water’s edge despite neither being able to swim.
The modest officer said: “It took a while to find him and he was over the side. The conditions were horrendous.
“We were just happy to be able to get to him and get him out.”
PC Teasdale added: “You don’t think of the dangers, you just want to get them out as fast as you can.”
The award is handed out on behalf of the family of 59-year-old Hartlepool woman Maureen Timlin who died from a sudden heart condition in February 2008, despite the brave efforts of police to save her.
Superintendent Glenn Gudgeon, District Commander for Hartlepool, also gave out 24 Certificates of Merit, 22 District Commander’s Commendations and two Recognition of Service and Professionalism to Duty awards.
They covered a host of achievements, from lifesaving efforts and acts of bravery to great community work and outstanding investigations.
Supt Gudgeon said: “It took several gruelling hours to decide who should get the Timlin Award as so many people are deserving of it and there have been so many lives saved in Hartlepool.
“In giving the award we considered many factors but people putting themselves at risk to save someone’s life was the major factor.
“It is something to be very proud of.”
• See the Hartlepool Mail tomorrow for more pictures and details from the award ceremony.