Former gunner saves woman’s life in river rescue

PCSO Richard Johnson, Johnny Waterton, Security Mnaager Backroom, local resident Richard Goc and PCSO Mark Spedding by the River Aire where the woman was rescued
PCSO Richard Johnson, Johnny Waterton, Security Mnaager Backroom, local resident Richard Goc and PCSO Mark Spedding by the River Aire where the woman was rescued
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Former gunner Jonny Waterton saved a woman’s life after she plunged into the icy waters of the River Aire in Leeds.

Mr Waterton, 32, originally from Altofts and now of Wakefield, pulled the woman to safety during the dramatic rescue just before midnight last Friday.

He was working as a security manager at the Backroom club on Call Lane when Richard Goc, who lives on the riverside, raised the alarm after spotting the woman in the water in the Calls area of the city.

Mr Waterton, who served as a gunner in the Royal Artillery for four years, said: “As soon as Mr Goc told us there was a woman in the river, instinct just kicked in and I said ‘I am going in’.

“I sprinted down the riverside and by the time we got there she had been in the water for 10 minutes.”

Mr Waterton climbed over the railings on the riverside and reached out to the woman but couldn’t reach her.

He hung upside down with Mr Goc hanging on to his legs to stop him falling into the water and got hold of the woman’s wrist.

Mr Waterton and Mr Goc were joined at the riverside by special constables Mark Spedding and Richard Johnson, who were patrolling in a police van in the area.

The police officers came to help Mr Waterton as he hung over the river edge and pulled the woman to safety.

Mr Waterton added: “I certainly think my military background helped. It teaches you the mentality that when something goes wrong you need to deal with it and act quickly.”

“I’d been on the door for a couple of hours before the incident so I knew how cold it was. She was very lucky we were there and acted quickly because there’s quite a current on that river as well.”