A dad who risked his own life to save a drowning stranger is demanding safety measures be put up around a dangerous Derbyshire river.
Today - Sunday, July 30 - Gareth Clark saved a third person’s life; in December 2016 he pulled a suicidal woman back to safety from a bridge on the A617, and three months ago and in the early hours of this morning he rescued two different people from the Derwent River.
He said: “It all happened so quickly but I remember very clearly thinking I was going to die and so was the person I was trying to save.”
Gareth, who lives on Walton Road in Chesterfield, was at work as a doorman at the The Remarkable Hare on Dale Road in Matlock when he found out a person was in river.
He said: “I was probably one of the only sober people there and I had to do something.
“It was chucking down with rain and pitch black and when I got to the water I couldn’t see anything so I told everyone to shine their phones at the water and then I saw a man who was clinging on for dear life, foaming at the mouth with only his face above water.
“Everyone was screaming he was going to die. I couldn’t wait for the ambulance and just watch a man die so I had to do something.”
The ex-army man then descended down the 30ft bank to the water’s edge.
He said: “There was nothing to grab on to but nettles, so I held on to them, and my whole body is covered in stings and sores and I think I broke two fingers but it doesn’t matter.”
The incident happened just after midnight and today is Gareth’s 36th birthday.
He said: “I remember thinking I was going to die if I ended up in the water and this was not how i thought I would be spending my birthday.” After realising he would not be able to get back up the bank with the man he asked people watching to make a human chain.
“That was an awesome moment and a real sense of community spirit,” said Gareth.
The man who was rescued was wet through and slipping in and out of consciousness so his wet clothes were removed and people huddled round to keep him warm before being taken back to the pub.
Gareth said: “This is the second time I have rescued someone from the river and without a doubt I think something needs to be done to make it safer.
“The bushes by the river are always being used by drunk people who need the loo and one wrong foot and you have slipped down. I saw how scared that man was and it should never have happened.
“Something needs to be done now to stop it from ever happening again, build a wall, put up a fence but it has to be safe.”
Gareth hopes the man, whose name he does not even know, makes a quick recovery.