Police officer and his dog commended for saving Dunmow man’s life

PC Simon Newman

PC Simon Newman - Credit: Archant

A police officer and his dog, who saved a man from icy water in a pond on a freezing January night, have both received a commendation. The man tried to resist help but he was saved despite that.

As the police officer struggled to push the man up the steep bank, the dog got hold of his shoulder and pulled and together they rescued him.

Simon Newman and his six-year-old German Shepherd, Studs were honoured by The Chief Constable of Essex, Stephen Kavanagh on Monday, January 11. The man, from Dunmow, had taken his partner’s vehicle and driven it cross-country. The other officers attending the incident were concerned for the man’s welfare as he had driven in the countryside where the vehicle could become stuck.

Pc Newman and Studs found the man’s vehicle that had indeed become stuck in a ploughed field and at that point Studs found a track that brought them to a nearby church yard. After a search there revealed nothing, the police helicopter began to fly over the nearby countryside. Other officers were with the man’s family who suggested that he may have gone to the nearby woods where the family often walked their dog.

The Air Support Unit gave Pc Newman, who was unfamiliar with the location, rough directions to the woods as the helicopter crew were unable to see through the trees.

Studs then managed to get a trace and the pair followed it into the woods. Very soon, as they ran to try and catch up with the man, PC Newman saw the man in the distance. PC Newman didn’t know it at the time, but the man was heading towards a pond.

As PC Newman got closer to the man, he could see the pond and was worried that the man might fall in, he called out that he was an officer with a police dog, asking him to head towards his torch but the man then jumped into the water.

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The man was face down in the water and PC Newman began to worry that the man was trying to drown himself and he knew that he needed to act quickly because he was in an isolated spot on his own. He positioned Studs at the edge of the bank and entered the icy water after the man.

He reached the man when they were about 10 metres from the bank but the man tried to resist him as he tried to take him back to the bank to safety.

PC Newman said: “This went on for what felt like ages but was probably seconds in reality. I tried to drag him back to the bank, but with him resisting me - he was as big as I am – it was a fair struggle. I managed to get him back to the bank and keep his head out of the water but I did not have the strength to get him up the bank.”

The bank was at a 45 degree angle and due to the struggle to lift the man out of the water, it had become wet and slippery.

At this point, Studs realised what was happening and saw that his handler was struggling. He came forward to the edge of the bank and bit the man over the top of the shoulder to grab him.

PC Newman said: “Studs is 40kg of German Shepherd and is quite a powerful animal. He had a lovely hold on the man’s shoulder and with me pushing the man up and with Studs pulling him, we managed to get him up the bank and clear of the water. I think Studs’ bite on the man’s shoulder was what won the day.”

The pair then kept the man stable and warm while they waited for more officers and an ambulance. The ambulance team arrived quickly, they wrapped the man in foil blankets and took him to an awaiting ambulance.

For Pc Newman, this is his second commendation. He said: “I’m proud of what I did that night. I believe that we saved the man’s life. I don’t believe that anybody else would have found him where he was, the helicopter certainly wouldn’t have seen him. He certainly would have been suffering from hyperthermia because of how cold it was, he would not have survived the night.”

“I did my job and we found him. I’m very proud of my dog. It’s what we train for and to have the dog come through for me in such a way was fantastic.”