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Broadway Market rescue: Hero dives into Regent’s Canal to save drowning man who ‘fell in while playfighting’

PUBLISHED: 07:00 23 August 2016

Matt Alpe, who grew up in New Zealand, said he had never seen anyone unable to swim  before (Picture: Polly Hancock)

Matt Alpe, who grew up in New Zealand, said he had never seen anyone unable to swim before (Picture: Polly Hancock)

Archant

A have-a-go hero dived into the Regent’s Canal to rescue a drowning man who toppled in while “playfighting” by the water’s edge.

Modest: Matt didn't contact the Gazette himself; rather, his proud sister got in touch (Picture: Polly Hancock)Modest: Matt didn't contact the Gazette himself; rather, his proud sister got in touch (Picture: Polly Hancock)

But Matt Alpe never got the name of the man he saved – and now he wants to track him down.

It happened at the lock by Market Cafe in Broadway Market at about 7pm on August 12.

Mr Alpe, who was celebrating a job offer with a friend, told the Gazette: “I heard this ‘plonk’ and immediately thought a dog had jumped into the water. Then I turned around and everybody was just looking in shock.

“He was under for 15 seconds and he wasn’t coming back up. The water’s quite murky with green weed so no one could see him so he was really drowning.

"He was under for 15 seconds and he wasn’t coming back up. The water’s quite murky with green weed so no one could see him. He was really drowning"

Matt Alpe

“I realised no one was doing anything, so I stood up and jumped in.” Charity worker Mr Alpe, who lives off Queensbridge Road, spent several seconds “bobbing up and down” trying to work out where the stricken man had ended up.

Growing increasingly hopeless, he was relieved to feel a hand moving around by his foot. He dived down and grabbed the man by the waistband of his shorts, but struggled to pull him to safety. A second good Samaritan jumped in and between them the pair dragged the man to the side. A friend, thought to have been “playfighting” with him when he fell in, was distraught.

“I was cradling his head and he was foaming at the mouth,” said Mr Alpe, 31. “His belly was moving a lot so he was battling to survive. Someone phoned a paramedic and a few minutes later they were cutting open his T-shirt and pounding on his chest. It happened really fast. A lot of people were in shock but he was definitely coming to and he started to say a few words.

“At that stage I felt comfortable to go. I was a bit cold and all covered in weed and stuff, so unfortunately I didn’t get his contact details.”

The only casualty on the day was Matt's prescription glasses, which were hooked over his T-shirt when he dived into the water (Picture: Polly Hancock)The only casualty on the day was Matt's prescription glasses, which were hooked over his T-shirt when he dived into the water (Picture: Polly Hancock)

Only with hindsight did Mr Alpe realise he had risked his own life. “I’m from New Zealand and I’ve never seen anyone get into the water and not know how to swim,” he admitted.

Do you know the man? E-mail ramzy.alwakeel@archant.co.uk.


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