Hero Darren should get a medal for saving woman from Lagan, says witness
A hero who jumped into the freezing River Lagan to save a drowning woman should get a bravery award, an eyewitness to the rescue has said.
Father-of-three Darren Hutton braved the torrents of the river to rescue the woman in Lisburn on Friday.
Helen Long (66) was taking photographs of the swollen river when the drama unfolded.
She told the Belfast Telegraph Darren should receive an award from the Royal Humane Society for his bravery and she would have no problem nominating him.
In fact, Helen's late father Harry was recognised twice with awards from the society.
The Royal Humane Society, whose patron is the Queen, is a charity that grants awards for acts of bravery in saving life and also for the restoration of life by resuscitation.
Awards can range from bronze, silver and gold medals to certificates and testimonials.
Helen said: "I would be delighted to nominate Darren for an award. He deserves it.
"I am absolutely sure this woman would have died if it wasn't for the incredible actions of Darren.
"He really deserves recognition for his bravery, because he could have been killed himself going in to the water.
"The river was very turbulent, the water was very high and it was very, very icy as well. I have no idea how he managed to hold on to her for so long until help arrived to get them out of the water.
"My own late father Harry received two awards from the Royal Humane Society: once in 1955 for saving a woman from drowning from the sea at Portrush and again in 1963 for saving a boy in Bangor after he fell from a fishing boat.
"I think it would be very appropriate for Darren to receive an award for his efforts too.
"He slid down the bank of the river, it was about eight feet, and managed to grab a hold of the woman. There was a desperate rush to find a life-ring and eventually one was found and thrown to Darren while he was still holding on to the woman.
"The police arrived very soon after and they threw a rope to Darren and held on to it until the fire brigade arrived with a ladder which was used to pull them both out. There is no way anyone would have got out of the water without help, the bank is very steep and the fire brigade arrived just in time.
"I would describe Darren as a wonderful saviour, he really committed an act of courage that saved that lady's life."
Mr Hutton told the Belfast Telegraph how he thought he was going to die in the attempt.
Playing down his bravery, he said the rescue was a team effort and that both of them would have died if not for the actions of two PSNI officers.