The section of the River Calder in Mirfield where the rescue took place
THE owner of a tattoo studio in Batley says he “doesn’t know how to feel” after stopping a man from taking his own life in the River Calder.
Lee Ellis, who owns 3rd Generation Tattoos on Wellington Street, pulled the stranger out of the river close to Ha’penny Bridge with the help of his friend David Butterworth, of Windy Bank in Liversedge.
The pair were driving through Mirfield at around 11.30am on January 6 when they spotted a peculiar splash in the water.
Lee, 41, said: “We both enjoy fishing so we decided to pull up to see if any fish were feeding.
“When we stopped, I made out a faint splash in the middle of the river and knew straight away that something was wrong.
“Then I noticed a man’s body floating, his arms and legs were spread and he was face down. I quickly drove to a lay-by and we ran down the banking.”
He added: “The body had floated around a bend on the river and had become snagged in some brambles. David jumped in and flipped the man onto his back – I jumped in a little bit further down (the river).
“After what seemed like ages, we got him onto the banking. The man was blue in the face and wasn’t responsive at all.”
Lee and David propped the man up on a steep banking at the side of the river, while Lee used his free hand to phone an ambulance. “We managed to roll him onto his side after about five minutes,” said Lee. “He became a little responsive and then all of a sudden he coughed and spluttered and he came to life.”
But after regaining consciousness, the man, who Lee describes as in his 70s, attempted to break free and throw himself back into the river.
“He sprang up and then started to attack us,” said Lee. “He was screaming ‘I need to finish it,’ and swung his arm round and caught me in the chin.”
Lee and David had been joined by a dog walker who had spotted the incident while walking past. The three of them managed to stop the man re-entering the river and dragged him further up the banking to safety.
“Adrenaline had kicked in, we had given everything and at this point we were shattered,” said Lee. “We managed to rest him against a tree until the ambulance turned up. I tried to speak to him and get some reasoning from him but he wouldn’t respond.”
Despite saving the man’s life, Lee says he doesn’t feel particularly proud of the deed.
“It doesn’t feel like you’ve done a good thing when in the end you feel like you’ve annoyed someone for doing it. I’d like to see him again and find out if he’s alright,” he added.
West Yorkshire Police were approached for a comment.