AN heroic coastguard officer has told how he saved a terrified man from drowning in a mudflats drama off Portsmouth.
Roly Warmington swam out to reach the 21-year-old who was stranded in mud between Whale Island and Tipner Boating and Angling Club as the tide raced in..
As a police helicopter hovering overhead shone its lights to assist in the night-time rescue, Mr Warmington, 52, reached the naked man just before the rising waters engulfed him.
The station officer for Portsmouth Coastguard said: ‘The man was right in the middle of the channel. He was treading water for his life. If I had not been there to save him for another five minutes he might have died.
‘He didn’t have any clothes on and the water was so cold. If he had clothed up for the elements then the risk of death would have been reduced.
‘He kept shouting and screaming for help and he was doing everything he could to keep his head above water.
‘The water was on a high tide and it kept rising.
‘It just kept getting deeper and deeper. I was just so glad to bring him out alive.’
Attached to a shore safety line, he swam more than 200 yards across the channel to grab the man.
Firemen from Cosham and Havant assisted in getting the man to shore where he was treated by paramedics before being taken to hospital.
Coastguards say the man had been larking about with his friends and 13-year-old sister when with an 18-year-old friend he waded out into the mud.
But the pair had gone in without any clothes on except for a pair of socks. The friend got back to the shore but the 21-year-old man was trapped in the mud.
Coastguards received a 999 call at 11.20pm on Sunday from the man’s sister who reported that he had got stuck.
Mr Warmington said: ‘A police helicopter illuminated the scene for us. He was very grateful that we had come out to save him.’
The man was wrapped in blankets and treated for cold symptoms by ambulance crews before staying overnight at Queen Alexandra Hospital.
A 13-year-old and a 19-year-old, who were also at the scene, were taken away by police.
Fred Caygill, of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, said: ‘Young children need to be careful about what they are doing and not put themselves at risk.’
Portsmouth city councillor Jason Fazackarley, of Stamshaw and Tipner ward, said: ‘The incident is a concern and they should have known better.’