Hero firefighter tells how he was winched down to rescue journalist from ford


A heroic firefighter carried out a dramatic rescue to save a journalist whose car got stuck on a ford and was filling with water.

The motorist, believed to be a local newspaper reporter on his way to interview an author, became trapped as he tried to navigate Westgate Ford in Weardale, County Durham.

Connor Scott has been named as the firefighter who was lowered down from the bridge to perform the rescue.  

Mr Scott, who has been with the service for four years, told MailOnline:  ‘We arrived first on scene to a man trapped inside a car after attempting to drive through fast moving water. 

‘The water was entering the car and due to the unstable nature of the vehicle, this made the incident time critical’. 

The fire crew had to perform what is known as a pick-off rescue, but Mr Scott said the water and its hazards meant that this rescue was much more challenging. 

Connor Scott has been named as the firefighter who was lowered down from the bridge to perform the rescue. Mr Scott, who has been with the service for four years, told MailOnline: 'The water was entering the car and due to the unstable nature of the vehicle, this made the incident time critical'

Connor Scott has been named as the firefighter who was lowered down from the bridge to perform the rescue. Mr Scott, who has been with the service for four years, told MailOnline: ‘The water was entering the car and due to the unstable nature of the vehicle, this made the incident time critical’

He said: ‘The vehicle was very unstable, and as soon as I landed on it, it started slipping and moving with the current, so I had to adjust my weight onto the far-right hand side of the vehicle otherwise it could have slipped further down the embankment, or been washed away completely’.

Firefighters stood downstream with throw lines and a specialist boat crew was on scene to help with the rescue operation.

Mr Scott said: ‘We set up a rope rescue system using the bridge as an anchor and I was lowered down to the vehicle from the bridge. I spoke to the casualty and assessed his injuries and found him to be unharmed but water was rising within the vehicle.

‘I placed the casualty in a harness and then attached him to my working at height system so even if the car was taken away with the current, he would still be attached to myself. I then guided the gentleman through extricating himself from the drivers seat and got him onto the roof of the car. 

‘We were then both hauled up using the rope rescue system we had developed at the top of the bridge, and he was passed onto the paramedics to be checked for further injuries such as hypothermia’.

The motorist, believed to be a local newspaper reporter on his way to interview an author, became trapped as he tried to navigate Westgate Ford in Weardale, County Durham

The motorist, believed to be a local newspaper reporter on his way to interview an author, became trapped as he tried to navigate Westgate Ford in Weardale, County Durham

The fire crew had to perform what is known as a pick-off rescue, but Mr Scott (pictured) said the water and its hazards meant that this rescue was much more challenging

The fire crew had to perform what is known as a pick-off rescue, but Mr Scott (pictured) said the water and its hazards meant that this rescue was much more challenging

The local reporter was due to call on author Carol Graham to do an article for the paper about her latest book about life in Upper Weardale – an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in the North Pennines.

She told MailOnline: ‘When he did not arrive by 3.00pm, when he was due at 2.00pm I was rather concerned and by 3.45pm somewhat annoyed! 

‘Just then a neighbour called to see me and I told her that I was far from happy [with the local paper], as their reporter had never turned up. 

‘She said, ‘Oh Dear!’ (or words to that effect! ) ‘I don’t suppose you know what he is driving as there is a grey V.W Polo that has been washed over the ford into the river, just below your house, and all the rescue services are there!

‘I rang [the local paper], and when they began to apologise for him not turning up, I interrupted and said, ‘Does he by any chance drive a grey V.W. Polo?’ and the answer was sadly yes!’

She said she was relieved to say that the reporter was physically unhurt from the incident.

A spokesperson for County Durham & Darlington Fire & Rescue Service said: ‘We would like to take this opportunity to remind people that this time of year presents several driving related issues, one of which is the suitability of routes that use fords when water levels could be higher or more powerful than normal.

‘Please consider alternative routes if your usual journey would involve a ford during the winter months.’

Mr Scott (pictured above during the rescue) said: 'The vehicle was very unstable, and as soon as I landed on it, it started slipping and moving with the current, so I had to adjust my weight onto the far-right hand side of the vehicle otherwise it could have slipped further down the embankment, or been washed away completely'

Mr Scott (pictured above during the rescue) said: ‘The vehicle was very unstable, and as soon as I landed on it, it started slipping and moving with the current, so I had to adjust my weight onto the far-right hand side of the vehicle otherwise it could have slipped further down the embankment, or been washed away completely’ 



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