Two heroic schoolgirls have spoken of the moment they rescued a 74-year-old pensioner from the River Mersey after two youths kicked him into the water.
Friends Khloe Woods and Ellie Hughes, both 14, heard the man’s cries for help just seconds after spotting two boys fleeing from the river bank in Warrington on Sunday afternoon.
The girls immediately formed a human chain to pull the pensioner out of the freezing water.
One boy, 15, has been arrested on suspicion of assault.
An image taken from a video of the incident shows a boy charging into the back of the man as he is fishing, catapulting the pensioner into the river just after 2.30pm.
As he floundered in the waters the cowardly trio ran away, laughing at the assault.
Friends Khloe Woods (right) and Ellie Hughes (left), both 14, heard the man’s cries for help just seconds after spotting the two boys fleeing from the river bank in Warrington on Sunday
This is when Khloe and Ellie ran to his rescue, forming a human chain to pull the man out.
Khloe said: ‘We just saw the man in the river holding on to a branch. Ellie had hold of me and I reached out and grabbed the man.
‘I was worried that when he let go of the branch, I might lose my grip and he would have gone down the river.
‘We got him out and to safety and asked him if he was OK. He was soaking wet. It all just happened so fast.’
Khloe, a pupil at Haydock High School, added: ‘We were both really scared and were shaking.
‘A woman then came to help us. We offered to call an ambulance but the man said he didn’t want us to.
This is the moment a gang of feral schoolboys pushed a 74-year-old pensioner into the freezing River Mersey
The youths targeted the elderly gentleman as he was fishing on the banks of the famous waterway in Warrington on Sunday afternoon
‘His nose was bleeding but he said he was going to walk home.’
It was the first time the man had been out fishing since lockdown.
Ellie said: ‘It was very scary. All the time I had hold of Khloe I was saying “please don’t fall”.
‘The man told us he had been magnet fishing and it was the first time he had been fishing since lockdown.
‘He said he went because it was a sunny day.’
The daughter of the victim, Jacinta, told MailOnline that she plans to take the two brave girls ‘for coffee and cakes this weekend’ to say thank you.
Jacinta said: ‘They literally saved him and held his head out of the water and struggled to pull him out whilst his down jacket filled with water.’
She added: ‘It has been really hard for the family to be honest, my father goes fishing almost daily along various rivers in Warrington and I fear it will stop him living his normal daily life now from fear.
As well as being shaken up by the incident the pensioner, who does not wish to be named, lost a ‘silver dollar keyring’ in the river, which was his only connection to his father he never knew
‘He has been in real shock since and according to my brother been crying since.
‘He recounted the story to us and was in floods of tears saying how he thought he was going to die, at first he didn’t know what had happened, he thought he had had a heart attack and didn’t know what was going on he’d gone in head first.’
As well as being shaken up by the incident the pensioner, who does not wish to be named, lost a ‘silver dollar keyring’ in the river, which was his only connection to his father who he never knew.
The daughter said: ‘It’s also really little thing but sad, my dad never knew his father but had a silver dollar from him that he had made into a keyring.
‘He has kept the all his life and it’s the only thing he has that is a connection to him and he has lost it in the river.’
Jacinta saw the video on social media before it was deleted by the poster, describing the clip she said: ‘It’s pretty awful and features a very deliberate set up shot with the teen running up and jump kicking him in head first.
‘Then the poster lined it with cry face laughing emojis, clearly been group sent before it was obviously deleted.’
Despite the incident Jacinta, who is a secondary school teacher, said ‘the boys really do not represent any of the youth that I teach.’
Ellie, a pupil at UTC Warrington, said: ‘We are just glad that he is safe.
‘I didn’t tell anyone what had happened until we saw all the stories online.
Sergeant Mark Spaven, of Warrington Local Policing Unit, vowed to catch the culprits
‘We are just glad that we were walking past at that time.’
Speaking about her daughter’s actions Khloe’s mum Annmarie, 41, a care assistant at Warrington Hospital, said: ‘I am amazed at what Khloe did and am really proud of her.
‘Her actions shows what kind of girl she is and what type of person she’s developing in to.’
Ellie’s dad Steve Hughes, 52, a para athlete said: ‘I am bursting with pride.
‘Ellie usually tells me every detail of what she’s been up to but on this occasion she only told us last night (tues) when she saw it online.
‘I don’t think she realised what they had actually done.
‘They formed a human chain to pull him out.
‘They might well have saved his life.’
Sergeant Mark Spaven, of Warrington Local Policing Unit, said: ‘This was a shocking and upsetting incident which has understandably left the gentleman shaken.
‘He returned home freezing cold and had sustained a cut to his face due to banging his head as he fell into the water.
‘We are determined to find those responsible and I am urging anyone who has any information or believes they know who did this to come forward.
‘I also want to appeal to the two women who thankfully came to his rescue to please get in touch with us as you could have information which could help our investigation.’
The incident took place between 2.30pm and 3pm on Sunday, April 25 while the man was sat on a bank of the River Mersey on Wharf Street near Riverside Retail Park.
After the attack he walked home and informed his family, who reported the assault to the police.
If you can assist police with their enquiries please contact 101 quoting IML 973152 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.