A teenage hero has been praised after saving a young boy’s life when he fainted and fell into a canal.
Tom Laybourne, 16, bravely jumped into the water when attempts to rescue 13-year-old Bradley Gannon from the water’s edge failed.
Bradley was fishing at the side of Stanforth canal, in Doncaster, South Yorks., when he fainted from the heat and fell into the water after losing consciousness.
Desperate to save the young teenager, Tom plunged into the cold canal and dragged Bradley to safety.
The incident happened on Thursday afternoon (21 July) just hours before 11-year-old Subhaan Ali drowned in a canal in Rotherham, South Yorks., after playing near the water’s edge with friends.
Now authorities are warning youngsters to avoid open water with a South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue spokesman explaining they “may not always be aware of the danger it poses”.
Fortunately for Bradley, Tom, who has since been called a “guardian angel”, was there to save the day and Tom’s mum, Clare Laybourne, 42, described how proud she is of her young boy.
Clare, who was with Tom on the bank when Bradley slid in, said: “Tom was such a hero, he didn’t even think about himself when he did that.”
Bradley had gone fishing with Tom’s younger brother, 13-year-old Ben Stevens, when he suddenly passed out and, to the horror of his friend, plunged into the canal.
Ben began to try in vain to pull Bradley to safety.
Fortunately, Clare and Tom were further up the canal when the incident happened and both heard a “big splash” before rushing up to where the two boys had been.
Clare said: “Because they were in the bit of the canal closer to the bridge, the water was much deeper and there was about a three foot drop to the water.
“I couldn’t quite reach Bradley from where I was and his body was all limp.
“Ben was panicking but was trying to get him to hold onto a fishing pole because he’s been trained at Sea Cadets and knows to try to get them to shore.
“Tom is 6ft 3ins so was able to reach Bradley but couldn’t quite pull him in – so he just jumped into the water.”
Fortunately, Tom was able to pull his brother‘s young friend to safety, despite the water coming up to his chest.
Clare added: “After Tom got him out of the water, Bradley started having a panic attack but calmed down after about ten minutes.
“Neither of us were supposed to be there, we just decided to come along at the last minute.
“Thank God we did.”
Bradley’s mum, Angela Sears, 33, explained how she had prepared Bradley as best she could for the warm day.
She said: “I think Tom must be his guardian angel because he wasn’t even supposed to go with them.
“I’d put suncream on Bradley and always tell him to drink lots of fluids. I did everything I could but you can’t predict these things.
“It just shows you how safe you need to be in the sun.”
Speaking about these incidents, a South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue spokesman said river flows can be “unpredictable”.
He said: “Children and young people should avoid open water – like rivers and lakes – because they may not always be aware of the danger it poses.
“River flows can be unpredictable and water is often deeper, colder and faster than expected. People should enjoy water safely in swimming pools or safer, specialist facilities instead.”
Head of health and safety at the Canal and River Trust, Tony Stammers, reiterated the importance of children being aware of the dangers surrounding open water.
Mr Stammers said: “It’s important that people, especially children, are aware of the dangers of cooling off by going for a dip in the wrong place. We always urge parents to make sure their children know how to stay safe.
“In particular, inland waters such as canals, rivers and reservoirs may look inviting on a hot summer’s day, but any open body of water can pose a hazard as the water can often be extremely cold and can bring on cramps in even the strongest swimmers.
“There may be hidden objects lurking beneath the surface.”