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Hero dock master rescues baby from water at Somerset harbour
7:12pm Sunday 27th January 2013 in Somerset
A BRAVE dock master jumped into the sea in Watchet harbour to rescue a baby boy whose pushchair was blown into the water by strong winds on Sunday morning (January 27).
Marina worker George Reeder, 63, pulled the pushchair towards the quay side before a group of people above used a rope to pull it out of the water.
The six-month-old baby was air lifted to hospital following the incident. His condition is no longer thought to be life-threatening.
Mr Reeder said: "I was working on the Esplanade when I heard a lot of commotion and screaming, so I got on my bike and cycled over.
"At first I thought a dog had fallen in but then the mother was screaming that’s my baby’, so I went over to the side and saw the buggy upside down in the water. I jumped straight in.
"I reached out and turned the buggy over and got it to the side of the quay so the people there could pull it up with a rope.
"When I got out I ran to see if he was ok and it looked like he was starting to breathe, so that was a big relief.
"I was at the right place at the right time. It wasn’t just me, I was part of the chain of people who helped – the coastguards, Tanya who did CPR, the ambulance crews and everyone else who did their bit.
"If it wasn’t for everyone's efforts, it might have been a very different story.
"I am so glad something positive has come out of it.
"I have been joking with the baby’s dad, Martyn, that we are the youngest and oldest harbour jumpers ever, at six months old and 63!"
Tanya Allen, who lives just metres from where the incident happened, was the first on the scene after hearing mum Kate Cooper's screams.
Once baby Sam's pushchair had been lifted from the water, she performed CPR on him until the Coastguards arrived.
Dad Martyn Stevens has thanked everyone involved in his son's rescue.
He said: "I heard shouting coming up the road and saw my friend Ben running towards the house looking distraught – he said ‘it’s your baby’.
"When I heard that I just went flying down the road. There were about six people there when I arrived, but more emergency services and other people kept coming.
"The air ambulance was incredible – they landed it on the harbour wall. I spoke to the co-pilot afterwards and he said they only had one shot at landing it.
"I can’t stress how amazing George and Tanya were.
"It was amazing when he opened his eyes and it was the best noise in the world when he started crying. I was still in panic and I knew it wasn’t over but you have to stay positive.
"That was a real positive and then they got his temperature back to normal and he had almost completely recovered within two or three hours.
"Everyone, all the way along from a great local guy to great friends to great professionals, have been brilliant. I can’t thank them enough.
"I feel great now but overwhelmed. When you have your first kid it is an amazing feeling but to see him pretty much die and come back to life is even better. I can’t really explain the level of happiness – it is euphoria."
Tanya Allen, who is a psychiatric nurse at Turning Point, was first on the scene.
She said: "I heard the screams, ran outside and realised it was Kate.
"I thought it was one of her dogs for a start and then she said it was Sam – her baby. Suddenly it got really serious.
"I saw a push chair upside down in the water and I thought I was going to have to jump in, but then George came along from nowhere and jumped in.
"He grabbed the pushchair and pulled it and then someone else got a rope and chucked it down. About three or four of us pulled the pushchair up the wall.
"We didn’t know what we were going to find – we didn’t even know if the baby was going to be in there. I started doing CPR straight away.
"Water started to come out of his mouth and he started to take a few breaths.
"I still didn’t know if it was going to be ok at that point. I didn’t think he was going to survive, to be honest, but I thought I would do it anyway – you have got to give it a go.
"He started to take more little breaths – I hoped that was a good sign and it was, thankfully.
"I am so pleased that I have been trained year after year in life support through work and that I could use it when I needed to."
Watchet Coastguard station master Ian Wedlake was part of the team which was called to the incident.
He said: "We knew immediately that this was a serious situation and we were here within minutes.
"George was in the Coastguard for 26 years and he was a life guard, so there is no question that his training would have come into play.
"He would have done a subconscious risk assessment and he wouldn’t have taken the chance if he didn’t have to. He knew that if he didn’t act very quickly the child would have died.
"If it had been much longer, it might have been too late – his quick reaction made a massive difference. The baby was in the water for between five and ten minutes.
"Coastguard Simon Bale was amazing – he took over CPR from Tanya, who did incredibly well, until the first responders arrived – a fire crew from Williton.
"I can't fault the efforts of anyone who was involved."