OAP's heroic rescue during flood drama

A QUICK-thinking OAP came to the rescue of a man his own age when he found him trapped in a car in a flood-swollen ford.Seventy-five-year-old Tommy Bird was checking the rising water levels near his home in Combs near Stowmarket when he was alerted to the car stuck in the water in Wash Lane.

Grant Sherlock

A STRANDED pensioner was rescued by a quick-thinking OAP his own age when he became trapped in a car in a flood-swollen ford.

Seventy-five-year-old Tommy Bird was checking the rising water levels near his home in Combs near Stowmarket when he was alerted to the car stuck in the water in Wash Lane.

A dramatic race against time then unfolded as the flood waters threatened to completely submerge the car.

The driver of the Volkswagen Polo, also believed to be 75, was locked inside the car when the water shorted the electrics.

Mr Bird today told how he smashed one of the car's windows with a hammer before he and a friend dragged the trapped motorist to safety.

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He said: “There was something like two-and-a-half to three metres of water there.

“This chap drove straight in the water, as far as I can see he thought he could go through.

“The force of the water spun the car around and it got wedged under a footbridge.

“It just happened we went down there to see the depth of the water. When we looked in the car the bloke was in there.

“I went and got a hammer and smashed the window in the rear door. I managed to talk to him and then pulled him out.”

The elderly driver, from Finborough Road, Onehouse, was said to be “quite shaken” and “pale” after his ordeal, which began at about 10.30am yesterday.

“He had no way out because the central locking had engaged when the water had put all the electrics out,” Mr Bird, who has lived in the area for 17 years, said.

“I leant inside and got hold of his arm and my friend Kel got hold of his other arm. The car was filling up gradually.”

Ambulance officers were called to the scene but the elderly driver had escaped injury.

Simon Wallace, a 46-year-old builder from Onehouse, saw the car in the water after the man had been freed.

“The lights were on and the wipers were still going. If he'd gone in another foot it would have gone over the roof of the car,” he said.

After the rescue Mr Bird walked the driver home.

“He was soaking wet and very pale,” he said.

Meanwhile a family of five had a lucky escape when their car became stuck in a ford in Wood Road, Bruisyard at 4.30pm yesterday.

Firefighters, ambulance officers and a Wattisham rescue helicopter was sent to rescue them. They were rescued by firefighters from Normanhurst and Princes Street, Ipswich, in an inflatable boat and were unharmed.

Did you see the rescue of the OAP? Did you have a lucky escape during the floods? Call The Evening Star newsdesk on 01473 324788 or e-mail starnews@eveningstar.co.uk

SUFFOLK'S heaviest downpour in five months was the cause of the weekend's flooding.

The area around Ipswich recorded 1.1 inches of rain during the early hours of yesterday morning - making it the heaviest rainfall since autumn.

Evening Star weatherman Ken Blowers said: “The last heavy rain was on October 9 last year when 1.14 inches fell.”

Police had 30 calls about flooding in Suffolk by late yesterday afternoon.

A spokesman for Suffolk police said many of these were from Hemington and Otley and some were from Stowmarket, Bungay and the border with Cambridgeshire.

The Environment Agency issued a series of flood warnings and a string of lower-grade flood watch warnings for Suffolk. Among them were the river Gipping in Ipswich, upstream of the London Road bridge, and the Gipping downstream of Needham Market, including Bramford.

In Stowmarket the rising waters breached flood defences at Combs Lane near where it meets Finborough Road.

At Onehouse a tent pitched near the Lakeside fishing lake was another victim of the flood waters.

“The river runs right past there and it's well-known for flooding,” Onehouse resident Simon Wallace said.

Cambridgeshire suffered some of the worst flooding. Severe flood warnings were placed on two rivers as police in the county warned motorists to take extra care.