A Met officer and security officer from Houses of Parliament have been hailed as heroes after saving a man’s life from the sub-zero temperatures of the River Thames.
The fast-acting duo – PC Habibi Syaaf from the Met’s Parliamentary and Diplomatic Protection Unit and security officer Ron Dowson – swung into action when they were contacted by staff who saw a man fall into the freezing river from Victoria Tower Gardens on Tuesday.
The man, who was at risk of being swept down-stream, was found clinging on to steps leading to the river before he was hauled out by the brave staff.
PC Syaaf said: “When Ron and I got there he was fully submerged and struggling to breathe. 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.”
Father-of-two PC Syaaf – a Met Police officer for 12 years, but who has only worked on security in Parliament for two months – said: “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.”
House of Commons Speaker, Sir Lindsay Hoyle said: “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, the 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.”
Home Secretary Priti Patel said: “It was an honour to meet Ron and Habibi.
“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.”
The man received the necessary medical