A Portishead police sergeant is being hailed a hero after jumping into the town’s marina to rescue a teenager.
Sergeant Jim Robinson, 43, who leads the town’s neighbourhood policing team, was called to an incident at the marina at around 8.30pm on Saturday.
A group of youngsters had gathered on the waterfront by Portishead Primary School when one of the group – a girl of 15 – jumped into the water.
She was followed quickly by a friend, another 15-year-old female, who went in to try to rescue her.
But as it was cold and dark, the pair struggled to get themselves out of the water and started to panic.
While one of the girls was brought to safety by residents using a life ring, Sgt Robinson – a keen sportsman – jumped into the water.
He swam out to her, grabbing hold of her and took her back to the ladder by the marina wall where he kept her afloat until the marina safety boat, fire fighters and coastguards arrived.
Paramedics were on the scene within minutes, along with the Great Western Ambulance Service hazardous area response team.
Both girls were taken to Bristol Children’s Hospital for a check-up, but were not thought to have suffered any serious injuries.
Police spokesman Wayne Baker said: “The alarm was raised about 8.30pm and a police patrol attended and found the female teenager in the water in difficulty.
“A police officer entered the water and together with the assistance of port staff and fire service carried out a successful rescue.
“The teenager was then taken to hospital for treatment.”
A paramedic who lives nearby saw the drama unfold.
He said he ran to the waterside and threw a life ring into the water which one of the girls managed to grab.
He and other passers-by managed to pull the girl on the ring to the side of the marina, where she climbed around 9ft up the ladder to safety.
A life ring had also been thrown to the other girl floundering in the water but, because of the attached rope, it could not reach her, prompting Sgt Robinson to dive in.
He said: “Occasionally you see kids jumping into the marina, but never at night.
“I noticed there was a gang of teenagers on the marina by the school and the next thing I knew the two girls had jumped in.
“A life ring was thrown into the water and we managed to get one girl to the side of the marina and she climbed up the ladder.
“The other girl was still in the water and this other man jumped in and swam out to her as the life ring did not stretch.”
He has now written to North Somerset Council, the ambulance service and the marina’s management team raising various safety concerns.
He said: “It is all very well having life rings, but they are useless if the ropes do not stretch out far enough.
“I am also concerned that the dock wall is not well lit and the ladders cannot be seen properly in the dark.
“One of the girls was screaming that she could not see the ladders.
“Perhaps consideration needs to be given to lighting these better so they could be seen at night in an emergency. If it had been later at night and people were not around to assist these two girls, then it could have been a very different story.”
The marina is owned and operated by Quays Marina and is staffed 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
Marina manager Keith Berry said: “The life rings and safety equipment has been adopted by the local authority and is inspected on a regular basis. The ladders are positioned under street lights so are illuminated as best as practically possible.
“Our safety record is very important to us and we will review what we can to do improve safety and whether further improvements are needed.”