A quick-thinking police officer has been praised after putting his life on the line to rescue two people from a river.
Special constable Lee Deighton, of East Ardsley, was volunteering in the Call Lane area of Leeds at around 11.45pm on November 30 when he was called to reports of a woman in the River Aire.
After sprinting to the scene, he found a 21-year-old woman in the river, as well as a man – believed to be a friend – who was trying to help her.
Seeing that the pair were struggling to stay afloat, Lee jumped straight in – still wearing his high-visibility vest, baton, handcuffs, police radio and stab vest.
He pulled the woman to the riverbank and helped keep her head above the water until the emergency services arrived.
Lee said: “It was all a blur. Before I knew it, I was in the water with them. There wasn’t really a thought process, I just went straight over the railing.
“It was pitch black and when you get in that water it just takes your breath away.
“She had gone right under the water and was struggling to say the least, and we were too. The fire service said they couldn’t believe none of us drowned because there is a strong current.
“There was someone looking over us that night.”
The woman was taken to hospital by ambulance where she stayed in overnight for observations.
Colleagues and online supporters have since come forward to praise Lee’s actions.
Chief Superintendent Paul Money, Leeds District Commander, said: “Lee clearly made a split-second decision in a fast-moving situation and put thoughts of his own safety to one side to help save this young woman’s life with the help of an equally brave member of the public.
“I am incredibly proud to have officers like him helping to keep our communities safe, particularly special constables who are private citizens by day and give their spare time to work as police officers.
“His actions demonstrate the commitment police officers and police staff show time and time again to come to the fore in dangerous situations to protect the public from harm.”
People have also hailed Lee and the member of the public as heroes on the Leeds City NPT Facebook page.
But not everyone was entirely pleased.
Lee said: “I have a six-month-0ld called Jax, so when I told my wife she wasn’t impressed – but she knows what I’m like. Thinking about it now, I was really stupid to have jumped in but I would do it again if I had to.
“I want to say a massive thanks to the emergency services, my team and the member of the public who came to help.”
Lee, who works as a duty officer at Morley Leisure Centre, added: “I do quite a bit of volunteering for Leeds City NPT because I love it.”