A COUPLE have drowned trying to save their dogs from a swollen river, leaving behind a seven-month-old baby daughter.
Laura Frey plunged into the River Garnock in Ayrshire in an attempt to save the two dogs, a cross breed and an English Springer Spaniel, who had fallen into the river during a walk on Sunday. Though she was rescued from the waters by firefighters, she later died in hospital. The body of her partner, Darren Greenan, who plunged in after her, was found on Monday.
The couple left their seven-month-old baby daughter, Ellis, strapped into a buggy on a footpath before jumping into the water. She is being cared for by relatives yesterday.
Mr Greenan, 33 and Ms Frey, 30, had been out for a Sunday afternoon walk along the banks of the river in Kilwinning. They are said to have used the walkway regularly to exercise their pets.
However, at around 2pm, the dogs seemingly broke loose and went into the water at a point known as Dirrans Weir. Ms Frey jumped in after them, followed by Mr Greenan. He was described by his family as a strong swimmer who used to swim in the Garnock as a teenager.
A passer-by raised the alarm, and Ms Frey was pulled aboard a dinghy by firefighters and resuscitated on the riverbank before being taken to Crosshouse Hospital in Kilmarnock, where she worked as a nurse. Though her condition was first considered critical but stable, Ms Frey died late on Sunday evening.
Police later recovered the bodies of two dogs downstream, and the search for Mr Greenan sparked a major police and coastguard operation, with a helicopter, divers and a marine unit from Strathclyde Police conducting a full-scale search.
Andrew Chamberlain, a Kilwinning councillor,said: "Obviously, we need to look carefully at whether extra safety features should be put in place along what is a very popular route for dog-walkers."
A spokeswoman for the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (Rospa) said around seven or eight people died in the UK each year trying to rescue their pets from water, often when rivers or lakes had iced over during winter months. She said: ‘If you see an animal or another person in difficulty in water, the key advice is do not go into the water yourself. That may be a gut instinct, but people should take a step back for a moment, gather their thoughts and, in the first instance, call emergency services. After that, there are other ways you can help someone or get a pet out of the water, perhaps using a branch, coat, or dog lead, but you should never go in the water. When a river is swollen, it can change dramatically.’
The spokeswoman added: "More often than not, the dog is able to get out of the water, as they are strong swimmers."
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