A PSNI sergeant – who is also a trained beach lifeguard – has been praised after rescuing a swimmer who got into difficulty on the north coast.
At around 5.45pm on Tuesday police received a call regarding concerns for the safety of a young man who had been cliff diving at Dunluce.
A crew from Coleraine PSNI station was sent to the area.
Sergeant Gareth Lavery said: “When I arrived at the scene with my colleagues, my instincts as a trained beach lifeguard immediately kicked in.
“I could see clearly that the young man was in distress and floundering in the strong currents.
“I assessed the scene and the risks involved and dived into the water. I swam out to him against the current and got hold of him and calmed him down.
“We were so far out to sea it was not possible or safe to try to bring him back to shore, which was quite a distance away.
“So I kept him afloat until my colleagues from RNLI arrived and got us both on board their craft.
“When we were brought to shore the young man was met by the Ambulance Service (NIAS) and taken to hospital.”
The officer added: “I would like to take this opportunity to wish this young man a speedy recovery and to thank my colleagues in RNLI and NIAS. This was a great example of collaborative working at its best.”
Chief Inspector Ian Magee said he was “extremely proud” of the officer.
“His selfless actions are indicative of the calibre of officer we have serving in our District,” he said.
“Keeping people safe is at the core of Policing and this is a prime example of this.
“If you see anyone in distress in the water please dial ‘999’ immediately and speak to the relevant emergency services and where possible give clear directions as to where they are.
“If there is a lifebelt or other buoyancy aid nearby throw it to the person in the water. You should then follow the instructions of the operator.
“I would also like to wish the young man involved in this incident a speedy recovery.”
Sergeant Lavery added: “With the summer holidays coming up and the hint of long summer days I would ask everyone to treat our coastline and waters with caution.
“What may seem like a bit of fun can quickly turn into tragedy. Our waters can have hidden dangers, such as strong currents and rocks. The depth of the water can also have catastrophic consequences if it is shallow and you dive into it.
“Enjoy your time at the coast but please always be aware of the hidden dangers.”