Praise for five who saved lives in Bristol harbour crash
COURAGEOUS police officers who risked their lives to save others have been given bravery awards by Avon and Somerset Police Authority.
PCs Karen Stenner, Victoria Hayward, Ryan O'Connell, Joab Gorin and Brett Stinchcombe all dived into the water of the Floating Harbour on October 20 after a BMW containing five people crashed through the railings of St Philip's Bridge in Passage Street and plunged into the chilly water.
Narmara Whisker, 23, was trapped in the submerged car and died.
But the officers' swift and brave efforts managed to save three women who had also been in the vehicle. When the 999 call came in, Trinity Road response officers PCs Stenner and Hayward were the first on the scene. Seeing the urgent rescue needed, they took off their body armour and dived in.
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PC Hayward had only finished her tutorship three weeks earlier and it was one of her first night shifts. She saved a woman who was hanging onto the boot of the car by tying a rope round her waist, before trying to get to Miss Whisker. Having helped save two women, PC Stenner also tried to save Miss Whisker.
Within a few minutes, PC O'Connell, from the roads policing unit arrived, climbed over the side of the bridge and dropped directly into the water. He swam over to a woman who was caught on the bumper of the car and managed to kick the bumper off and release it before dragging her to safety.
Meanwhile, PCs Gorin (The Bridewell) and Stinchcombe (Southmead) were on their way and once they arrived, they also jumped in.
By this time, Miss Whisker was still trapped in the car and PC Stinchcombe tried to break the windows with his baton, but failed.
All of the officers had to be treated for hypothermia, and PC Stenner suffered cuts during the rescue.
The officers got a warm round of applause at the police authority's last ever meeting on Wednesday,
Police authority chairman Dr Peter Heffer said: "Members were humbled to hear about the incidents and it was only right that these officers should be commended for their oustanding bravery.
"Instinctively, they risked their own life to save others. Their actions were remarkable and they are a true credit to this police service."
The officers were given a standing ovation by members and the constabulary's chief officers as they left the meeting.
The awards were launched earlier this year to commemorate the Queen's Diamond Jubilee and are only awarded for exceptionally brave acts or courageous service.
Wednesday's meeting at police HQ in Portishead was the last time the police authority will give out the awards, as the police authority is being replaced by a Police and Crime Commissioner, who will be elected next Thursday.
Shennie Jaffer, 33, from Robertson Road, Easton, has been charged with causing Miss Whisker's death by dangerous driving, drink-driving, driving without insurance and driving a vehicle without a licence. Jaffer has not yet entered a plea at court.