A heroic student who saved a 62-year-old unconscious man from Boroughbridge Marina on New Year’s Day has received a prestigious accolade.
Leah Curtis, 23, jumped into the over-flowing marina in the early hours of January 1 to save Danny Smith, who had fallen over-board while attempting to row back to his boat.
Mrs Curtis, who is originally from North Carolina in America, told the Gazette: “It was a spur of the moment decision to jump into the water to help Danny. I felt like I had to do it really, as he was too far away for us to be able to grab him or throw anything to him.”
Mrs Curtis, who is a student in London and was celebrating New Year’s Eve on her husband’s boat on Boroughbridge Marina when she heard Mr Smith fall into the water, was presented with a chief fire officer’s commendation certificate at Ripon fire station on Tuesday, May 7 by Nigel Hutchinson, the chief fire officer for North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service.
Mrs Curtis said she was “really shocked and delighted” to receive the commendation.
“I must admit to being more nervous about coming to collect the certificate today than I was about jumping into the water!” she said.
Mrs Curtis jumped into the water and grabbed an unconscious Mr Smith when she heard a splash from the marina, and dragged him to the edge of a pontoon.
Mrs Curtis’s husband, Alex Curtis, and several other neighbours rowed out to the pair and were able to pull both Mrs Curtis and Mr Smith out of the water, at which point Mr Smith had regained consciousness.
Due to River Ure levels being so high at the time – 14.1 metres were recorded at the river on New Year’s Eve – fire crews were called to assist paramedics in moving Mr Smith from the pontoon back to dry land.
Fire service group manager Mal Austwick, who nominated Mrs Curtis for the commendation, said: “The actions carried out by Leah to rescue Mr Smith were very brave.”