‘I didn’t think’: Greenkeeper describes moment he plunged into River Don to rescue man

The Press and Journalin General Interest

A north-east man has described the moment he pulled a man from the River Don after seeing him fall from an Aberdeen bridge.

Allan Mackay was driving across Persley Bridge in Aberdeen with his partner Ramune Toblnyte when they saw a man fall backwards off the bridge

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Allan Mackay was driving across Persley Bridge with his partner Ramune Toblnyte on April 29 last year when the drama unfolded.

Just seconds after turning the corner, they saw a man fall into the water.

They immediately pulled over and raced to the side of the bridge and spotted him floating face down.

Without a second thought, Mr Mackay ran along the embankment, through stinging nettles, and into the water to help him.

Eventually, the 42-year-old was able to "hook" the man with a large piece of wood he had found by the river before he drifted further downstream.

The greenkeeper, from Cruden Bay, has now been recognised for his bravery in the police's annual awards.

'I didn't think at all'

Speaking to The Press and Journal, Mr Mackay revealed he acted purely on instinct.

He said: "We literally just drove round the corner and saw him climbing up. Then he just spun round the lamppost and disappeared, and fell off the bridge backwards.

"At first, you are a bit shocked.

"When we looked over the bridge, he was face down. We looked for a couple of seconds thinking, is he going to turn over or not?

"I don't really like the water, but I didn't think at all. I ran down the bank, covered in stingy nettles, took my trainers and my jumper off and I went in. The water was so cold when I first went into it, it took your breath away."

He added: "I started trying to swim out to him but that wasn't going to happen. I got out and put my shoes back on and started running along the bank. I got level with him and I tried to get out again as the current was taking him. He wasn't going mega fast but he was right in the middle and it was taking him too far.

"I saw the police, in behind the gym and I could see they had a lifebuoy but they were stuck behind fences and they couldn't quite get to the river. I thought I could get to him.

"I ran ahead of him and I grabbed a big piece of wood. I used that to balance because I was literally on my toes on the stones but I was able to keep my head up. As he got level to me, I hooked him with the stick and pulled him in."

'I think he's dead'

After entering the water numerous times, Mr Mackay finally managed to pull him from the water and onto the bank.

The greenkeeper at Cruden Bay Golf Club initially feared the man was dead.

"When I grabbed him, I grabbed him by his hood," he said.

"When we turned him over, he was white, you could see his veins, his mouth was open and his eyes were open.

"Just as I shouted that he tried to take a breather. It was a gargle sort of noise.

"When we got back to the car to go, I could see they were doing CPR on him down at the bank.

"I was a bit down for a couple of days until I found out he was alright. I hope the guy is doing okay now."

Rewarded for bravery

Thanks to Mr Mackay's quick thinking, the man was taken to hospital for treatment and has since made a full recovery.

In recognition of his heroic efforts, he received two awards at the Chief Constable's Bravery and Excellence Awards.

He was given a bravery commendation from the police alongside an honorary testimonial by the Royal Humane Society at the awards ceremony.

Mr Mackay said receiving these awards came as a shock.

"I didn't expect it at all," he added.

"It wasn't really until we got home that it began to hit me.

"I'm quite a nervous person, so I put my award in a little book cupboard but my girlfriend keeps taking it out and showing it to the neighbours."

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