Teenager Abbie Bannon has been hailed a hero after jumping into a river to rescue a struggling girl from drowning.
The incident which happened during October half-term week in West End Park in March saw Abbie, 15, from March jump into the River Nene after she spotted the 18-year-old girl waving frantically.
Abbie did not think twice before stripping off her jacket and shoes and leapingintothe river after the girl, who suffers from epilepsy and had earlier been subjected to an ongoing tirade of bullying from a small group of young people in the town.
“I didn’t think. I just knew I had to get her out to the side. The water was really, really cold and dirty and there was a strong current,” said Abbie, a Year 11 pupil at TBAP Octavia Academy in Wisbech, who was walking with a group of friends when the teenage girl they had befriended earlier suddenly threw herself into the water.
As well as the bitterly cold water, Abbie had to contend with being struck in the head and face several times as the girl panicked. While her friends phoned for an ambulance, plucky Abbie grappled with the girl, who then started to have a seizure, enabling Abbie to get a better grip on the victim and pull her towards the side.
“At one point my foot got caught on a reed and I thought I wasn’t going to be able to get out,” she added.
However, after seven long minutes in the water, Abbie managed to reach the riverbank where her friends helped them both out. When they arrived, the ambulance crew took 45 minutes to stabilise the victim before taking her to Hinchingbrooke Hospital. Abbie stayed with the ambulance crew until they left, and even gave the girl her coat to stay warm.
Abbie’s mother, Claire Butler, said, “When I first had the call from Abbie’s grandmother to say Abbie had been in the river, I was terrified she was hurt. But I couldn’t be more proud of my daughter. What she did was amazing.”
Abbie and the 18-year-old have since been in contact and have become friends.
Abbie’s mother has a message to the victim’s tormentors, who have been victimising her around March. She said: “Both girls could have been killed. I hope the bullies think carefully about what they’ve done and get themselves sorted out before they do it to someone else.”