TWO police officers plunged into icy sea and saved the life of a distressed man who had walked into the waves.
The dramatic rescue happened after the 21-year-old had threatened to take his own life at Middleton Beach, in Hartlepool.
PCs Chris Phelan and Paul Whitehouse rushed to the scene and tried to calm him down, but he was oblivious to their pleas and carried on walking deeper and deeper into the waves.
He ended up chest deep in the water and stranded 150ft from the coast.
With little thought for their own safety, the brave police pair sprinted across the sand and splashed into the North Sea and hauled him to the safety of the beach before making sure he was unharmed.
Both officers have now been commended for their heroic actions.
Superintendent Glenn Gudgeon, Hartlepool’s District Commander, has praised them for their “dedication and professionalism”, but modest PC Whitehouse and PC Phelan were quick to play down their roles despite the obvious risks that they took.
PC Whitehouse said: “We deal with a wide range of incidents in which we always aim to have the safest and most positive outcome.
“There was no option other than to go into the water ourselves. Waiting any longer could have meant a tragic end to this man’s life at the hands of the sea.”
PC Phelan added: “As police officers we work to save lives and protect the local community, and I know my colleagues would have done the same if put in the same situation.
“Every incident is unique and a key part of the work we do is being able to assess the circumstances and respond accordingly.”
The man was detained under the Mental Health Act and was taken to hospital as a precaution after the incident at 7am on Friday, June 10.
PC John Tyson has also been acknowledged by his superiors for co-ordinating the force’s helicopter and HM Coastguard in preparation for a rescue operation in case the man had been swept away.
Supt Gudgeon: “This man was clearly in a distressed state, the officers dealt with the situation quickly and with sensitivity in order to save the man’s life.
“Their dedication and professionalism has shone through.
“Our officers are faced with difficult decisions and dangerous incidents every day, but will always do what is necessary for the safety of the public.”