Police have praised a mother and daughter for their courage after they stopped a suicidal man from jumping off a bridge in freezing conditions.
As the 25-year-old man let go of the Newhaven spring bridge in East Sussex late last night, the pair grabbed onto his wrists and desperately clung onto him.
The heroic duo ignored the danger the river posed to themselves, and were unaware that police officers had been waiting at a discreet distance before they dashed forward to help.
A couple also assisted with the rescue, using ropes and a lifebuoy to help the distressed man.
The mother, her son in law and her daughter, were driving on the A259 when they saw the man standing on safety railings on the north side of the bridge.
The man told the pair that if they called the police, he would throw himself into the River Ouse – which was flowing with strong currents at high tide.
As police officers rushed to the scene and the Coastguard and local lifeboat crews were alerted at 10.45pm, the mother and daughter tried to calm the man.
Sergeant Kevin Lette, of Sussex Police, said: “The two women who engaged with the man and who were the first to grab him as he let go showed great presence of mind and, indeed, courage, as they hung on to him while officers ran to help.
“They were also in some danger as the man was struggling to release himself and the river below was approaching high tide, which generates strong currents. The water temperature was only around 8C (46.4F) and it was freezing cold in the wind.”
He added: “Everyone involved did just the right things and probably saved this man's life. Given the tide and temperatures, plus the height of the bridge, the consequences could have been much more serious.”
The man was detained under Section 136 of the Mental Health Act and taken to Eastbourne District General Hospital for treatment.
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Additional reporting by PAReuse content