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River plunge driver - rescuers speak

PUBLISHED: 03:15 21 March 2002 | UPDATED: 11:35 03 March 2010

A DOG walker has spoken of how he and two other villagers helped save a driver whose car plunged 10ft before landing upside down in a river.

Tony Kidman relived the moments he helped pull Kevin Smith, 46, to safety after the silver Mercedes he was driving crashed through fencing, just missing a concrete bridge, before plunging into the River Stour at Nayland.

A DOG walker has spoken of how he and two other villagers helped save a driver whose car plunged 10ft before landing upside down in a river.

Tony Kidman relived the moments he helped pull Kevin Smith, 46, to safety after the silver Mercedes he was driving crashed through fencing, just missing a concrete bridge, before plunging into the River Stour at Nayland.

During the rescue Mr Kidman, who lives in Nayland, was helped by fellow villagers Margaret Boggis and Howard Birch. The trio's swift actions helped to save Mr Smith's life early on Monday morning.

Kevin Smith, of Leavenheath, near Sudbury, is currently recovering at Colchester General Hospital and has had surgery for serious leg injuries.

He was travelling along the A134 towards Colchester when the car he was driving veered off the road, crashed through barriers before coming to a standstill upside down in 4ft of water.

Mr Kidman, who works at a Sudbury engineering firm, was out taking his dog for an early morning walk at the time of the incident. He had his back turned to the bridge when he heard an almighty bang.

He said: "I didn't actually see the crash, but I heard a deafening noise. I turned around and saw bits of fence everywhere. I ran to the edge of the bridge and saw the car had fallen about 10 ft into the river onto its roof."

Mr Kidman then waved down Mr Birch who was driving by at the time. Mr Birch called the emergency services on his mobile phone, before the pair went back to the crash scene. By this time they were joined by Mrs Boggis, who was also out walking her dog.

Mr Kidman said: "At this stage we were all together calling out to the driver. We didn't know if he was dead or alive. Then miraculously the driver's head appeared out of the water. He was moaning a lot and was trying to pull himself out of the car.

"Howard then jumped onto the car to steady it and Margaret waded into the water to help the driver, while I leaned over to pull him safely up onto the bank. We then wrapped him in blankets until the ambulance arrived.

"I certainly don't feel a hero, I didn't do anything special and it was definitely a joint effort.

A hospital spokesman has described Mr Smith's condition as "stable."


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