Police officer gets bravery award after saving man from drowning in Milton Keynes canal

A police officer who admits he's "not a very good swimmer" has won a bravery award after saving a man from drowning in a freezing cold canal.

PC Matthew Waters dived into the Grand Union Canal in Milton Keynes to pull the man to safety after he had got himself into difficulty in the water.

PC Matthew Waters

PC Matthew Waters

PC Waters was working with a colleague who has asked not to be named.

The man they saved was convinced – mistakenly - that he had heard someone struggling in the water as he returned from a night out and had leapt in to investigate.

An early morning runner spotted him sinking further and further into the muddy cana and called the police. She jumped in to try to help.

When PC Waters arrived at the scene, he saw that another police unit had arrived. They had been trying to reach the man and the woman with a lifeline from the edge of the canal.

The runner was holding his head up as best she could but the water was beginning to lap over his face.

PC Waters could see the only way to reach them was to get into the water himself, so he removed his boots and stab vest and ‘belly flopped’ in, he said.

He added: “The man looked like he really was in trouble, so the only option was to jump in. I didn’t take the decision lightly."

"My wife would laugh and say, ‘Oh yeah, he’s good at doggy paddling’.”

His colleague, who has also won a bravery award, quickly assessed the situation and also dived in to help. Together, they managed to wrench the man free from the cloying mud which had been threatening to drag him under.

PC Waters then swam backstroke in the lifesaving position to drag the man back to the bank. The man was treated for hypothermia but has since made a full recovery.

The person who the man had originally thought he had heard drowning didn’t exist, it later transpired.

The wo officers will now presented with a Thames Valley Police Federation Bravery Award for their good deed, which happened in 2017.

Thames Valley Police Federation Chairman Craig O’Leary said: “Police officers are much more than crime fighters. PC Waters and his colleague showed incredible bravery to enter the water and save this man’s life.

“The canal was cold and murky and there was no way of seeing how deep it was. They put themselves in very real danger to rescue him, they are worthy winners of a Thames Valley Police Federation Bravery Award. We are very proud of what they did.”

The pair will attend an Awards Ceremony in the Thames Valley Policing area on Thursday.