Hartlepool hero's heartbreak after he saves one brother from lake, but other brother drowns
A hero who came to the rescue of two brothers struggling in a lake has told of his heartache as he could but he could only save one of them.
Yanek Kowal, originally from Hartlepool, was fishing at Ullswater in the Lake District on Thursday August 1 when spotted a group of young men and women struggling to swim towards a pontoon, and quickly dived in to try and help.
Two young brothers, aged 18 and 21, were in trouble as the 65-year-old, who has 47 years of life guarding experience, came to their rescue but he could only rescue one.
Yanek said: “I could not get to him in time. This was the time I had to make the most difficult decision in my life. I decided to save the one just submerging.
“I approached him with care and got around the back of him but he was panicking that much that we both went under.”
The incident happened at about 4.55pm. Tragically, the older brother was found dead at around 10.45pm after emergency services arrived at the scene and conducted an extensive search.
Yanek was a real hero. He said: “It has been very traumatic with sleepless nights but the family have been very nice about it all.
Sign up to our daily newsletter
The i newsletter cut through the noise
“I am very grateful that the family are happy that I had done as much as I could.
“It is not very nice to see something like that happen and I had to make a very quick decision.
“This terrible experience has ruined the casualty’s family life and is something that will be with me for the rest of my life.”
Yanek now wants to get the message out about water safety – particularly knowledge of cold water shock..
He said: “The thing I want to stress is the importance of is people going into the water with great care. Obviously we’re never going to be able to stop people going into open water but everyone should be safe.
“If anyone is hoping to attempt a rescue they need to realise their limitations and act safely.”