Fisherman rescues man threatening to jump from South Parade Pier

RESCUER John Owens saved a man as he tried to jump from South Parade Pier.  Picture: Ian Hargreaves (112651-5)
RESCUER John Owens saved a man as he tried to jump from South Parade Pier. Picture: Ian Hargreaves (112651-5)

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A FISHERMAN who leapt into action to save the life of a man threatening to jump off South Parade Pier has been praised for his bravery.

John Owens grabbed the man who had climbed over the railings at the pier in Southsea.

He pinned himself on top of his body, keeping hold of him and hauling him back over the side of the railings.

As reported in The News yesterday the man, aged in his 30s, threatened to jump from the 15ft high pier into the rocky area of sea below, at 6.30pm on Tuesday.

Police cleared an area of the pier and tried to persuade him to climb back to safety.

But after a 90-minute stand-off, witnessed by a crowd of 200 people, Mr Owens made a split-second decision to haul him back to safety.

The 47-year-old, from St Helen’s Parade, Southsea, was out fishing for mackerel with friends when he noticed the man had climbed over the railings.

He said: ‘I saw him standing there on the wrong side of the railings, he was in his own world staring out into the sea.

‘Usually you get young lads who mess around and climb underneath the pier.

‘But something wasn’t quite right about this guy. He was shaking and looked terrified.

‘It was pretty distressing to see him in that state.’

When Mr Owens approached the man he said he wanted to take his own life.

He said: ‘He told me he wanted to jump, he had enough of life and wanted to end everything.

‘He told me to keep away from him, but I tried my best to reassure him, talk with him calmly and I asked him if he wanted a cup of tea.’

People enjoying a stroll along the Southsea seafront looked on as a lifeboat bobbed in the water below.

Mr Owens, a fisherman for three years, said: ‘All I kept saying to him was, you’re going to be okay, there’s lots of people who will support you and help you get yourself together.

‘But he was having none of it, and by this point it had been well over an hour, it was freezing cold and if he was going to jump then he would have done so by that point.

‘I just had this huge rush of adrenaline, and a huge crowd of people watching cheered as I brought the guy back over.

‘I don’t consider myself a hero, I just felt that I had done my bit to make sure he hadn’t done anything stupid.’

Richard Hackwell, lifeguard officer at Portsmouth, was one of the lifeboat crew circling below the pier.

He said: ‘John’s actions were very courageous.

‘He did a very good job of staying with the man, keeping him calm and patient.

‘He could have seriously injured himself if he had fallen in.’

The man, who has not been named, was led to a waiting ambulance shortly after 8pm and taken away for medical assessment.