"There is no doubt my river rescuers are absolute heroes"

Chelmsford Weekly News: Picture taken by a passer-by as the rescue effort from the River Can is carried out Picture taken by a passer-by as the rescue effort from the River Can is carried out

A GRANDFATHER who was saved after his car plunged into a central Chelmsford river was full of praise for his “brave” rescuers.

Terry Skingle, 73, from Chelmsford, careered into the freezing River Can after his foot slipped from the brake to the accelerator in his automatic Lexus RX400.

After smashing through the railings near Barrack Square Bridge, the retired car salesman who has rheumatoid arthritis then became tangled in his seatbelt.

But he was saved by refrigator engineers Spencer Turner, 23, and Ian Patch, 54, who dived in to help free the grandfather-of-three as large crowds of shoppers watched on in horror.

Mr Turner leapt in first and helped pull the car to the side of the river along with another man.

After this Mr Patch jumped in to help hold Mr Skingle just above water level as they awaited the emergency services.

Mr Skingle said: “They are true heroes in my eyes.

“I know I would have drowned if they hadn't rescued me.

"I was trapped and going down with the car but they didn't hesitate and jumped straight in.”

Firefighters and police officers also dived into the water.

Using specialist cutting equipment and a ladder, Mr Skingle was hauled to safety just after noon last Wednesday.

He was taken to Broomfield Hospital alongside his rescuers to be treated for possible hypothermia.

Mr Skingle, who had been out with his wife Carole, 70, and their daughter Deborah Ducksbury, 40, when the accident happened, received brusing on his calf and is recovering at home.

Mr Turner, from Chelmsford, and Mr Patch, of Tendring, who had been working nearby in the Quadrant department store were modest about their actions.

Mr Turner said: “We are not heroes. We just did what anyone else would do in that situation.”

Mr Patch added: “"We knew we just had to keep him above water until the emergency services arrived.

"It was blooming freezing in there and we couldn't feel our arms and legs.

"I guess we were just at the right place at the right time.”

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