A boy of 11 who fell into a river is lucky to be alive – after being rescued by a heroic passer-by as he sunk to his neck in thick muddy sludge.
The terrified youngster was being sucked in deeper every time he moved - and a frantic pal could only watch helplessly as suction pulled him lower.
But as onlookers raised the alarm, and firefighters and police raced to the scene, near Winn Gardens, John Andrew spotted the panicking youngster and sprang into action.
Without a thought for his own safety, John scrambled across the top of a steep waterfall, past torrents of water, and reached out towards the stricken boy.
Holding onto tree roots, brave John managed to inch near enough to grab hold of the boy, pull him from the mud, and drag him to safety.
Today dad-of-one John told The Star it was his ‘natural instinct’ to save the youngster.
“I was always brought up not to get involved in things that don’t involve you, but this was different – I couldn’t just stand there while this young boy was in trouble,” he said.
“I didn’t even think about it, I just did what I felt was right.”
He said once the boy was on dry land the pair hugged before the lad and his friend walked off – too afraid for John to take them home in case they got into trouble from their parents.
“We hugged each other, I just wanted him to know he was safe now, and he hugged me back,” John added.
“I asked him if I could take him back to his home but he thought he would be in trouble, so I never got to know anything about him other than he was 11 and called Kyle.”
John, aged 39, from Wincobank, was taking his six-year-old son Jack tadpoling when he spotted the boy in difficulty.
He said he used to play down by the river himself as a child, but had not been there for around 15 years.
“I can’t believe it was the first time back down there for about 15 years and I came across something like this,” he said.
“I was in shock myself afterwards but I am just glad it ended safely for the young boy.
“He must have been terrified while it was happening because when I pulled him out you could hear the suction noise dragging him down.”
John’s fiancee Donna Garnham, 34, who watched the drama unfold, said: “All John could see was the boy’s head, and his arms waving.
“The next thing I knew John was climbing across the top of the waterfall, and our son Jack was saying, ‘Daddy looks like Fireman Sam going to the rescue’.
“We didn’t think about how serious it was at first. It was only later in the day when we both said how different it could have ended up.
“I am very proud of John.”
A South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service spokesman said: “In this hot weather we know it can be tempting to cool off in a river, but this incident shows why we strongly advise people to stay out of the water.
“Elsewhere in England there were two deaths in similar circumstances over the weekend, and we have had similar tragic instances in South Yorkshire in recent years.
“Firefighters were stood down from this incident when it became clear this boy was no longer in danger.
“It is good news this incident ended happily, through what we understand to be brave actions by a member of the public.
“However, our general advice to people is not to put themselves in any danger if someone is in difficulty in the water. If possible, it is best to call 999, and wait for emergency crews to arrive.”
n Are you the mum or dad of little Kyle? Would you like to say thank you to John in person? Get in touch - call The Star’s newsdesk on 0114 252 1309 today.