Heroic parliamentary security staff rescue man from freezing river

Parliamentary security staff have been hailed as heroes for rescuing a man who fell into the River Thames.

Security officer Ron Dowson and Met Police officer Habibi Syaaf leapt into action after CCTV operators spotted a man fall into the freezing river from Victoria Tower Gardens on Tuesday.

They man was found clinging on to steps leading to the river before he was hauled out by the brave staff who looked after him until paramedics arrived, the House of Commons said.

Mr Syaaf, 38, said that when they reached the man he was fully submerged and struggling to breathe.

Man rescued from River Thames
Sir Lindsay Hoyle and Home Secretary Priti Patel congratulated Habibi Syaaf (UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor/PA)

The father-of-two, who has been an officer for 12 years, added: “I got down to the last step and urged him to give me his hand, but as I did so he lost his grip from a metal mooring ring and started drifting away.

“I just shouted ‘grab my hand’ and managed to pull him back on to the first step.

“Ron put a buoy over him and we hauled him into the gardens where my colleagues removed his wet clothes and wrapped him in blankets.

“The guy was shaking and couldn’t speak. I’m just so grateful he survived.

“I’m not a hero – Ron and I just did what we are trained for and what we could to help.”

Home Secretary Priti Patel and House of Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle both praised the two officers for their bravery.

Ms Patel said: “Their heroism is the perfect example of police working alongside members of the public to keep people safe.

“In this instance neither hesitated, running towards freezing tides to rescue a man who was in very real danger.

“I am proud to call them both my colleagues in Parliament.”

Sir Lindsay added: “There’s no doubt in my mind that had it not been for Ron, Habibi, and the control room operator Dave Thomas who spotted him, that man could have drowned.

“We are so lucky to have so many brave security staff looking after us in Parliament, but also keeping people in the vicinity safe.

“I would like to think their bravery could be recognised.”

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