A bizarre mystery of a young woman spotted “drowning” in the canal sparked a massive police, helicopter and drone search on Sunday morning.
Dozens of police and fire officers rushed to Fenny Stratford after reports that a man had jumped into the water just before 7am to rescue a damsel in distress.
The young man became stuck in the mud and had to be pulled out by two policemen.
Believed to have come from a late night club, he was adamant he had spotted a young woman with blonde hair struggling in the water and had dived in to save her.
For the next two and a half hours experts scoured a 400 metre stretch of the canal and bank to search for the mysterious female.
Police sent out a helicopter, while Bucks Fire used a water rescue sled, poles, wading teams and even drones to examine every inch.
Residents were awoken to the drama by the sound of the helicopter and saw nearby Millward Drive packed with rescue vehicles.
“It was a real drama and we all wondered what was happening,” said one neighbour.
We understood they were looking for this girl or woman that had been spotted in the water.”
At 9.30am the search was called off.
With no body spotted since anywhere along the canal, experts concluded the woman either got herself out – or did not exist in the first place.
A resident said: “The theory is that the man had been drinking and was seeing things. In which case, he risked his own life to save an imaginary female.”
Thames Valley Police spokesman: “The man said he got into the canal because he saw a woman in the water. The search was concluded as there was no sign of anyone in the water or on the canal side.”