Heroic March student praised for saving epileptic girl from drowning in the River Nene

Abbie Bannon, from March, fearlessly jumped into a river to save the life of another girl. PHOTO: Ha

Abbie Bannon, from March, fearlessly jumped into a river to save the life of another girl. PHOTO: Harry Rutter - Credit: Archant

A 15-year-old student from March has been hailed as a hero after risking her own life to rescue a victim of bullying from drowning.

Abbie Bannon, who is in Year 11 at the TBAP Octavia Academy – a school in Wisbech for those who have experienced difficulties with their learning and behaviour - was walking with friends in West End Park on October 26 when a teenage girl they had befriended earlier suddenly threw herself into the water.

As the 18-year-old waved frantically, Abbie sprang into action, taking off her jacket and shoes and leaping into the river after her.

It’s believed the girl, who is epileptic, had jumped into the water after being bullied.

Abbie said: “I didn’t think. I just knew I had to get her out to the side.

“The water was really, really cold and dirty and there was a strong current.”

As well as the bitterly cold, fast moving water, Abbie had to contend with being struck in the head and face as the girl panicked. The girl then began to have a seizure but Abbie managed to pull her out of the water after seven minutes.

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“At one point my foot got caught on a reed and I thought I wasn’t going to be able to get out,” Abbie added.

When they arrived, ambulance crews attended to the victim for 45 minutes, eventually stabilising her, before taking her to Hinchingbrooke Hospital.

Keen to know the girl was safe and well, Abbie stayed with the ambulance crew until they left and even gave the girl her coat to stay warm.

Abbie’s mum, Claire Butler, said, “When I first had the call from Abbie’s grandmother to say she had been in the river, I was terrified she was hurt. But I couldn’t be more proud of my daughter. What she did was amazing.

“Both girls could have been killed. I hope the bullies think carefully about what they’ve done and get themselves sorted out before they do it to someone else.”

Head of school at the Octavia Academy, Nick Morley, said, “The whole school is incredibly proud of Abbie. What she did was selfless and enormously courageous. We are all extremely grateful that both girls are safe and sound.”