Have-a-go hero saves life of drowning man whose heart stopped in Dagenham

Rescue hero Sam Deller at the moat in Valence park where Tony Osborne jumped in

Rescue hero Sam Deller at the moat in Valence park where Tony Osborne jumped in - Credit: Archant

A have-a-go hero saved the life of a drowning stranger after the man jumped into freezing water for a swim and his heart stopped.

Dad-of-one Sam Deller was fishing with his girlfriend at a moat in Valence Park, Dagenham, last Tuesday morning when Tony Osborne leapt into the water fully clothed, claiming to his friends that he wanted to go for a swim.

When he later surfaced face-down in the water, screams alerted 25-year-old Sam to the danger and he dived in to rescue Tony, who remains in a serious condition in Queen’s hospital, Romford.

“I was in the water by the time I could think,” said Sam of Kent Road, Dagenham.

“It was a hot day, but I was surprised how cold it was – it took my breath away.”

After swimming the lifeless Tony, 39, back to the bank Sam was helped by two other fishermen to drag him on to dry land where one of them tried to resuscitate him.

“He was dead when he came out. He was blue – his lips and ears were blue. There wasn’t a pulse or anything,” said Sam.

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“He wasn’t breathing for a long while. I would say a good ten to 15 minutes.

“I could hear the water in his lungs. We could hear it all bubbling inside him as the guy was breathing down his throat.”

Paramedics arrived after receiving a call at 11.15am and made “extensive efforts” to revive Tony, whose heart had stopped, eventually getting him to breathe, a London Ambulance Spokesman said.

“I couldn’t believe that it had happened,” said unemployed Sam. “It was weird. It was like watching one of those programmes on TV where people save other people.”

Sam, who was with girlfriend Charlie Eden, 24, and their six-year-old daughter Kayleigh, said Tony had come over earlier to compliment him on the fish he had just caught.

He added Tony’s brother contacted him via the police the day after the ordeal to thank him.

Supt Mike Hamer said: “It would appear that this incident was entirely avoidable. We understand that the parks are there to be enjoyed, but it is important that we all act responsibly around water of any depth.”