Portsmouth woman 'who almost drowned' thanks hero Portuguese teen for saving her life

A WOMAN who almost drowned after being sucked under the water by powerful currents has thanked one of the men who saved her life.

Saturday, 27th July 2019, 7:00 am
Updated Saturday, 27th July 2019, 10:22 am
Abigail Godley was swimming near South Parade Pier when she started to drown. Her life was saved by Ricardo Formiga who is pictured with her at the pier. Picture: Chris Moorhouse (260719-00)

Abigail Godley was dragged under the water while swimming near Southsea’s South Parade Pier on Wednesday evening.

Horrified onlookers watched as the 32-year-old musician flailed frantically in the water and screamed for help before choking and losing consciousness.

Two men risked their lives to swim out to sea to rescue the lifeless Landport woman, who was later resuscitated and transported to Queen Alexandra Hospital where she made a full recovery.

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Abigail Godley was swimming near South Parade Pier when she started to drown. Her life was saved by Ricardo Formiga who is pictured with her at the pier. Picture: Chris Moorhouse (260719-00)

And yesterday Ms Godley was reunited with one of her rescuers, 19-year-old Portuguese teenager Ricardo Formiga.

Speaking to The News, Ms Godley said: ‘I can’t believe it. This man saved my life. Without him I would have definitely have died. He is like my guardian angel, he is like my hero. Words aren’t enough to thank him.’

Recounting her ordeal, Ms Godley said she had been drinking ‘Smirnoff Ice’ on the beach while waiting to meet friends when she ‘took a dip’ to cool down.

‘I’m a strong swimmer but I couldn’t believe how powerful the current was, it came out of nowhere,’ she said. ‘It just sucked my legs right under.

Abigail Godley is all thumbs up after having been saved. Picture: Chris Moorhouse (260719-06)

‘The water went right over my head. I was screaming for help. But I’d swallowed so much water that I passed out. I don’t remember much after that.’

Funfair worker Ricardo was just finishing his shift on the pier when he spotted Ms Godley in the water. She was being helped by another man – who was struggling to swim her to shore alone.

Speaking of his part in the rescue, Ricardo said: ‘I could see a man trying to help her but he was having a panic attack. So I jumped in and tried to help.

‘All I was thinking about was saving the girl. I wasn’t thinking about anything else.’

Abigail Godley kisses Ricardo Formiga who saved her after she almost drowned. Picture: Chris Moorhouse (260719-97)

The pair were reunited at South Parade Pier yesterday where Ms Godley kissed and hugged Ricardo.

Asked if he was a hero, the Portuguese national said: ‘I don’t feel like a hero. I just did something anyone else would have done.’

Ms Godley is now eager to meet the other unidentified man who helped in her rescue and wanted to praise the emergency services who treated her.

She has also urged other swimmers to take care in the water off the coast.

The incident happened just hours after a mum and two children were saved in Portsmouth Harbour in a separate rescue.

The 32-year-old has since started to raise money for lifeboat charity the RNLI and hopes to stage a fundraising concert in Portsmouth next month.