Dedham: Man crawls on frozen river to rescue dog

THIS is the moment a man risked his own safety by stripping off and crawling across a frozen river to save his stricken dog.

The drama unfolded on the River Stour at Dedham around 10am yesterday, and both the man and dog are believed to have emerged unscathed – despite the man also crashing through the ice himself.

In a separate drama in Brandon yesterday, emergency services were involved in a frantic search of the Little Ouse amid fears somebody had plunged through the ice. That search is due to continue this morning after a hat was found on the frozen river near a hole in the ice.

An eyewitness to the Dedham incident, Paul Wenborne, told how he watched in horror as the man went to the aid of the dog, which had fallen into the river. He said: “I saw the man crawling across the ice to rescue the dog. He then crashed through the ice, managed to get the dog back on to the ice, and swim back - then climb back onto the ice then get back to the bank.”

Roy Laverick, chairman of Dedham Parish Council, said he was pleased it had been a happy ending. He said: “I think he was unwise on the spur of the moment, we all do things which in retrospect are unwise but at the time seem a good idea.

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“How one reacts when the event is unfolding and how one reacts from one’s armchair at home are two completely different matters.

“I think human safety must be more important than canine safety.

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“But the fact that he and the dog are okay means there is a happy ending to this story.”

Stuart McMillan, assistant divisional officer at Essex County Fire and Rescue Service, said: “Even though this ice appears to be strong it can be eggshell thin and anyone who falls through into the water below could get trapped under the ice and would only be able to survive for minutes in the freezing water.

“The most common cause is people chasing their dogs out onto the ice, and I urge people not to do this. It isn’t worth the risk. Dogs will normally make it safely off the ice and back to the shore; the same cannot be said for people.”

The incident near Church Road in Brandon, which was reported around 3pm, prompted a major response by the emergency services.

Police, fire crews in a dinghy and paramedics, together with the RAF helicopter, spent around three hours searching the area trying to establish whether anyone had fallen in.

There were unconfirmed reports locally that children had been seen playing in the area at the time.

A Suffolk police spokeswoman said: “The caller stated he could see footprints leading from the bank, going across the river. He could see a hole broken in the ice and a hat to one side.”

Police remained at the scene last night, although officers said nobody had been reported missing.

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