Newhaven: Pair Save Man Threatening To Jump From Bridge

5 February 2015, 14:32 | Updated: 5 February 2015, 14:36

A mother and daughter have been praised for helping save the life of a suicidal man who was threatening to jump from a bridge in freezing conditions.

Paula Woolven and her daughter, Rebecca, grabbed the 25-year-old man's wrists and desperately hung on to him just as he let go of the Newhaven swing bridge in East Sussex late last night.

Police who had been waiting at a discreet distance then dashed forward to help, along with a couple who used ropes and a lifebuoy to aid him.

The mother and daughter, together with her husband, had been travelling in a car on the A259 when they spotted the distressed man standing on safety railings on the north side of the bridge.

He told the pair that if police were called, he would jump into the River Ouse as it approached high tide and amid strong currents.

As police officers dashed to the scene and the Coastguard and local lifeboat crews were alerted at 10.45pm, the mother and daughter tried to calm him.

Sergeant Kevin Lette, of Sussex Police, said: "The two women who engaged with the man and who were the first to grab him as he let go showed great presence of mind and, indeed, courage, as they hung on to him while officers ran to help.

"They were also in some danger as the man was struggling to release himself and the river below was approaching high tide, which generates strong currents. The water temperature was only around 8C (46.4F) and it was freezing cold in the wind.''

He added: "Everyone involved did just the right things and probably saved this man's life. Given the tide and temperatures, plus the height of the bridge, the consequences could have been much more serious.''

The man was detained under Section 136 of the Mental Health Act and taken to Eastbourne District General Hospital for treatment.