Plymouth teenager's quick actions saved man's life
A QUICK-THINKING schoolboy saved a late-night reveller from drowning after he fell from the Barbican quayside.
Hailed a hero by police, 14-year-old Charlie Mabey has now been nominated for a national award.
The youngster rescued the man when he toppled into the water and became sandwiched between the pontoon and granite wall.
Charlie, who attends Coombe Dean school in Plymstock, was at his parents' pub on the Barbican at around 1am on September 30, giving a drink of water to a friend of his older brother when he spotted the drunken reveller stumbling towards the quay edge.
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The teenager, from Wembury, said: "This guy just ran and hit the pavement. I looked down again, then I heard a massive bang and he wasn't there."
The man – who has asked to remain anonymous – had fallen down into the two-and-a-half foot gap between the floating pontoon and quay wall.
He was face up, with his head under the water and his mouth open.
"I looked over, went down the ladder and saw his head floating there," Charlie said. "I grabbed him underneath the arms and kept his head above water.
"Another guy came down, gave me a hand and we pulled him onto the pontoon. This other guy stayed until the police came, then he left.
"All I thought was 'Christ, he's fallen in! What do I do?'
"Then I just went over and pulled him up. I've never seen anything like it before, but my natural instinct was he's going to drown and I can't leave him."
Mum Pauline Mabey, who with husband Chris Unwin runs the Cider Press and Black Jacks on the Barbican, said she didn't believe her son when he first told her what had happened.
She said: "When he told me the next day I just thought 'ok, right'. Then a couple of days later I had the police officer call me, wanting to make sure Charlie was all right.
"I'm very proud of him and it's good for a teenager to get a bit of good publicity, because they do often get a bad name.
"I'm glad he was so quick thinking that night."
Acting Police Sergeant Chris May, neighbourhood team leader for the Waterfront, has since nominated Charlie for a Royal Humane Society award.
The society is a charity which grants awards for acts of bravery in the saving of human life and, also, for the restoration of life by resuscitation.
Acting Sgt May's citation notes how Charlie called two nearby police officers who came and rendered first aid.
The citation also notes how the ambulance and fire service personnel had to lift the reveller around 12ft to the top of the quay and the waiting ambulance.
Acting Sgt May said the man "miraculously" had very minor injuries and made a full recovery.
He said: "It is without any doubt that Charlie's prompt action prevented this man from serious injury or death by drowning given the narrow space he fell into and the movement of the pontoon in the water. Charlie was very level headed and quick-thinking. He was down the pontoon like lightning.
"All three emergency services' personnel present that night remarked on Charlie's actions.
"All three recognised that if he hadn't done what he did, we could have seen a very different outcome. I've no doubt he saved this man's life and his family should be rightly proud of him.
"I would also like to thank our unknown hero as well. He came to Charlie's aid and played a big part in the rescue, but left without leaving his name."