THE lives of a man and his dog being swept down a river in a car were saved by a quick-thinking farmer who used his tractor to help them.

The driver got into difficulty on Monday evening while trying to cross the ford in Witton Gilbert, near Durham.

Fire and rescue crews from Durham, Bishop Auckland and High Handenhold were called to the scene and rescued the man and his dog with the help of the farmer.

A spokesman for the service praised the farmer and said his actions had saved their lives.

Mark Henderson, community safety team leader said “We were extremely pleased that we were able to carry out a successful rescue of the man and his dog, who have been extremely lucky and would just like to thank all those involved in the rescue.

“We would ask members of the public to be mindful that depth and flow rate of fords can change particularly quickly, especially following rainfall or in this case, melting snow.

“We would recommend avoiding crossing fords in bad and/or unpredictable weather, check the depth gauges, be vigilant for warning signs and go the long way round if they aren’t sure how deep the water is.”

We'd love to speak to the farmer who came to the rescue - if that's you, can you please call Gavin Havery on 0191-3844-600