‘We did everything we could’: Rescuer’s dramatic battle to save Meadowhall victims
A rescuer involved in a dramatic battle to save the lives of two men trapped in a car in a Sheffield river has described the efforts of all those involved.
The man, who does not wish to be identified but who works for one of the emergency services in South Yorkshire, said: “We all did everything we possibly could to try to save their lives.”
Tommy and Josh Hydes died after the white Mercedes GLS they were travelling in crashed through railings on a bridge on Meadowhall Way on Saturday night and plunged into the River Don below.
Tommy, aged 24 and his nephew Josh, 20, could not be saved and were pronounced dead shortly after their bodies were recovered from the submerged car.
South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue described the rescue mission as ‘a very challenging incident’.
The car was on its roof when emergency workers arrived and was filled with water.
Firefighters had to smash a window to gain access to the car to search for casualties and bring them to the surface of the water.
One of the brave rescuers involved said firefighters, police officers and ambulance workers were all in the fast-flowing, freezing cold river during the joint operation.
“Three police officers swam to the car and were on its roof at one point. All emergency services were all in the river at some point during the operation. It was a real joint effort,” he said.
For one of the fire service’s water rescue teams deployed to the incident, it was its first real-life operation.
The rescuer said: “It was cold, it was dark and the water was really fast flowing under the surface.
“Attempts were made to smash windows as an escape route in case there was any chance of survivability.
“Firefighters went under the surface, which is against policies and procedures, but if they think there is a chance of saving a life they have operational discretion and made that choice.”
He said the car had to be winched onto its side to allow rescuers access to the vehicle to search for casualties.
Both men were located and transferred to the river bank, 20 metres away from the car, where ambulance workers battled to revive them.
Tommy and Josh were both taken to hospital but pronounced dead a short time later.
The rescuer involved in the dramatic operation said: “We all did everything we possibly could to try to save their lives. We tried our best.
“It has affected everybody involved.
“Significant risks were taken by those who entered the water to save others. The car was unstable, the water was deep and fast flowing. There were dangers and we could have lost firefighters or police officers but they wanted to do all they could.”
Tommy became a dad three months ago and Josh had just passed some accountancy exams.
Their family members are being supported by specially trained police officers.
Social media has been flooded with tributes to the pair and flowers have been left at the crash scene.