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Woman rescues sailor from Boroughbridge Marina
A YOUNG woman's bravery has been hailed by firefighters after she leapt into icy waters beside a flooded river to save a neighbour’s life.
Student Leah Curtis plunged into save 62-year-old Danny Smith after his dinghy capsized in Boroughbridge Marina after he knocked himself unconscious while returning to his boat at 2am this morning (Tuesday, January 1).
The 23-year-old and husband, Alex Winch, had been celebrating the new year with Mr Smith on their boat at the North Yorkshire marina, between Thirsk and Ripon, which was deluged after the River Ure burst its banks.
She said: “As Danny rowed back to his boat I heard a bang, followed shortly by what sounded like his boat capsizing, and what followed after that was just instinct.”
Mr Winch said the river was overflowing through the marina and although he had urged Mr Smith, who had been drinking, to wear a lifejacket he had not done so.
After using torches to search the water the couple spotted Mr Smith’s face just breaking the surface.
He said: “I’m not a good swimmer so Leah jumped in and pulled him up in the water and held him afloat. It was clearly very cold and Danny soon became heavy.
“It sounds awful to say, but at one point I thought it was going to be a question of Leah having to let go of him.”
Mrs Curtis said she spent about ten minutes in the water with the unconscious Mr Smith before her screams roused fellow sailors who pulled the pair to a partially submerged jetty.
She said she was relieved to see emergency services arrive and Mr Smith then regained consciousness.
She said: “It was certainly a different way to see in the new year and one that I won’t forget.”
Mr Smith, who suffered from exposure to cold, tonight remained in a stable condition at Harrogate Hospital.
Neighbours said Mr Smith had also been rescued from the marina in the summer.
A North Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Service spokesman said Mrs Curtis’s courageous actions had averted a tragedy.
He said: “Ten minutes in the water at this time of year is a long time, so this young lady was very brave.
“Mr Smith would not have lasted long without her and he ought to be very grateful to her, he is a lucky guy. More sailors die on the way back to their boats than at sea.”