Three Hartlepool police officers have been hailed for saving the life of a woman who could not swim by rescuing her from drowning in the sea.
The distressed 45-year-old was rescued by three officers after finding her in the sea at night inside the South Pier at Hartlepool.
Police had earlier received a report raising concerns for the welfare of the woman in the marina area but the information was vague and three officers launched a search of the area on foot.
Sergeant Paul Johnson deployed officers to Hartlepool Yacht Club and himself and PC David Ridgway began to search the Seaton Carew area, when they received a call from PC John Dixon to say he had located the woman.
The three officers made their way to the scene and spotted the woman inside South Pier at the beach. Officers used search lights to guide them to the woman who was up to her neck in the water.
Sergeant Johnson located a nearby lifebuoy with a safety rope attached and put it over PC Ridgeway who began to wade through the water towards the woman. Sergeant Johnson anchored him with the rope and PC Dixon also went in the water to ensure that PC Ridgeway had a secure line back to shore.
PC Ridgeway managed to reach the woman who was suffering from shock, and all three of the officers, who were waist deep in water, had to work together to bring her out of the sea and to carry her to the police van where it was dry and warm.
The woman appeared to be suffering mild hypothermia and was taken to hospital in an ambulance.
Temporary Deputy Chief Constable Simon Nickless said: “This is an example of how our officers are willing to put their own lives at risk to save the life of others. Policing is a difficult job but what makes me really proud of our officers is that they are willing to go above and beyond in difficult situations.
“Each of the officers worked extremely quickly in difficult circumstances and managed to trace the woman’s location with minimal information on her whereabouts.
“They worked as a team to save her life and worked quickly and professionally to ensure that they brought the woman back onshore to safety. I’m extremely proud of their efforts and it’s important that they get the recognition they deserve.”
Praising the officers, Police and Crime Commissioner Barry Coppinger said: “It never ceases to amaze me the absolute professionalism and dedication of the people we have working for us at Cleveland Police.
"I’m regularly reminded of the outstanding bravery and specialist skills of our officers and on behalf of the public I would like to thank the officers involved for saving this woman’s life.”
Sergeant Paul Johnson said of the incident on Tuesday, February 9: “It’s not every day you have to rescue a woman from the sea, but it is part of our job to protect members of the public and we did everything we could to ensure we got the lady to safety.
"We are all pleased that the outcome of the incident was positive and that the woman is safe and well.”