Dartford lake rescue: Have-a-go-hero describes trying to save swimmer
A FISHERMAN has told of his desperate attempts to save a mental health patient who died after going for a swim in a Dartford lake.
The 26-year-old from Dartford was fishing in Cotton Lake when he heard a man jump into the water at shortly after 9.45am on Wednesday. (Feb 27)
“He swam out to the middle and started bobbing around for five minutes or so, coming up and down, but then he didn't come back,” said Oli, whose identity News Shopper agreed to protect.
“I ran around to the other side of the lake near to where he was to see if he had come up. I still couldn’t see him.”
A passer-by who also spotted the man get into the water dialled 999 at shortly after 10am to spark a large scale emergency operation in Crossways Business Park, Galleon Boulevard.
Oli, who serves in the army, said: “I stripped off and went into to try to find him, with no luck. I couldn’t see anything, it was so cold.”
A police helicopter was scrambled to help with the search while a rescue boat pulled the man from the freezing water before he was taken back to shore and resuscitated by paramedics in the car park of The Wharf pub.
The 34-year-old voluntary patient at Littlebrook Hospital, in Bow Arrow Lane, was then taken by ambulance to Kings College Hospital in London where he later died. The man lived in Dartford but his name has not been released.
"There was about 40 minutes between him going under until to being pulled out," said Oli.
“The paramedic told me they had saved someone who had been under for an hour and a half.
“But with the temperature of the water, you aint surviving that.”
Oli, who regularly fishes in the popular lake which is believed to be up to nine foot deep in the middle, said he was surprised to see someone swimming at this time of year.
He said: “In the summer you get the odd person having a laugh, mucking about and playing out in the water, but not in the winter.
“I thought he was messing around to start off.”
Another fisherman from Dartford described seeing the rescue attempts to News Shopper.
Sam Merritt, 19, who works at The Tackle Box in Watling Street and had been fishing overnight, said: “He swam out to the middle and stopped swimming.
“I didn’t see him go in, just being dragged out. He was only a young lad.”
As News Shopper went to press a post-mortem investigation had not been carried out and an inquest yet to be opened and adjourned.