Family praise river drama heroes

A MOTHER whose family - including her ten-month-old baby - were plucked from a Suffolk river when an afternoon stroll nearly turned into a tragedy today heaped praise on the have-a-go heroes who saved their lives.

A MOTHER whose family - including her ten-month-old baby - were plucked from a Suffolk river when an afternoon stroll nearly turned into a tragedy today heaped praise on the have-a-go heroes who saved their lives.

Alison Cronin and baby daughter Bethan plunged into the cold waters of the River Gipping at Sproughton after stumbling on an eroded riverbank pathway near Hazel Woods.

As they fell, Bethan's buggy overturned, submerging the frightened tot while her father Carl, 30, jumped in and tried desperately to rescue them both.

The family's screams were heard by Patrick Hughes-Reckitt, who owns the land, and another walker called John, who dashed to the riverbank and pulled all three to safety.


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Today, an emotional Mrs Cronin, 28, paid tribute to their quick-thinking and bravery.

“I thank god because without John and Patrick we would never have got out,” she said. “I can't swim and when I went in I thought Bethan and I were going to drown.

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“If it had not been for them, it would have been a totally different story.”

The drama unfolded at around 2.45pm on Sunday when the family, of Lower Street, Sproughton, took their two dogs for a walk.

Mrs Cronin said: “When the buggy wheel went into the hole, I was thrown over the top - it was like I had dived into the river.

“I thought the whole thing was all over when I scrambled to the bank, but then I realised Bethan was in her pram upside down under water - it was absolutely terrifying.

“My husband jumped in but the pram had got stuck. We were so weighed down and we just couldn't free it. Thankfully, Bethan was harnessed in the pram otherwise she would have drowned.

“When I was pulled out I was hysterical. I was screaming for the men to get me out because I wanted to be with my baby.

“Bethan had a stinging nettle rash all over her face but she was ok. She was screaming but I think it was my screaming which had distressed her more than anything.”

The shocking episode was witnessed by Mr and Mrs Cronin's elder daughter Caitlyn, seven.

Mrs Cronin said: “When it happened she was crying and was very upset, but she's taken it as an adventure and she's fine now.

“Patrick brought us home in his Land Rover which she loved. Patrick and John were so wonderful and calm which really helped.

“My husband was very quiet when we got home. We all keep thinking how lucky we are that we are here. Had I been walking on my own, we would have had no chance.”

She added: “How do we thank both of them? How do you thank someone for saving your baby's life?”

ONE of the men who dragged the Cronin family to safety today played down his actions.

Sproughton man Patrick Hughes-Reckitt, who owns Hazel Woods where the family were walking, saved the family with help of another man known only as John, who is also believed to live in the village.

Mr Hughes-Reckitt said: “John and I were talking nearby and heard the screams.

“When we got there the mother was clearly in shock and very worried about the baby who had gone under the water. We managed to haul them out and she was in a bit of a state.

“The little girl (Caitlyn) was a bit worried so we calmed her down. We piled the whole family, the dogs and the buggy into the Land Rover and I put the heating on and took them home.

“The walk home would not have been a good idea because they were soaking wet.

“The mother told me she would never take the walk again, but I said 'you must'. It's like getting back on a horse when you fall off. You have to do it.”

Mr Hughes-Reckitt said the path which Mrs Cronin stumbled on has been repeatedly damaged by dogs scrambling to get out of the river after swimming. He said it is in the process of being resurfaced.

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