HEROIC DOG lover Nigel Parkinson jumped into a river to save a drowning dog and found himself fighting for his own life.
Mr Parkinson from Wiltshire followed neighbour Helen Smith's Golden Retriever Scarlett into the water, but soon found himself being pulled under by strong currents. Mr Parkinson said: "I acted on impulse and knew that I had to save Scarlett. But once I was in the water I realised just how much trouble I was in. I held on to the dog but she was really heavy and I couldn't keep myself above water and hold on to her. I managed to grab onto the river bank but the currents were so strong that my head kept going under and I swallowed an enormous amount of water. My mind just went blank and it felt like I was in there forever, but I knew that I had to save Scarlett because she means so much to Mrs Smith."
Mr Parkinson was in the river for around two hours from the time he jumped in until he was rescued. His neighbour had left her mobile phone at home and had to make her way back there to call for assistance, which delayed the rescue by at least an hour.
Fire and rescue crews from Corsham and Cooper Avon were called to the scene, at as well as Trowbridge Water Rescue. Mr Parkinson, a mental health patient, was treated by paramedics for hypothermia after being pulled from the river, while Mrs Smith was treated for shock. Both then returned taken to their homes in Blackwell Hams.
Mrs Smith said: " I was terrified when Nigel and Scarlett were in the river. It took me at least half an hour to walk from the riverbank to my car and then make my way home. The whole time I was thinking about the two of them and wondering whether one of them had drowned. I have been ill recently so it was a struggle to move quickly to get help. Nigel was very badly stung too, after fighting through stinging nettles to get into the river so he was in agony as well. He looked like death when he was pulled out but I am ever so grateful to him.”
Mrs Smith has three Golden Retrievers, of which Scarlett is the oldest and very much a family dog.