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'I could not stand there and watch someone drown': Heroes receive bravery awards for saving others

An aversion to water was no barrier to brave Kelvin Kearns who rescued an elderly man from his car after it careered down a ravine into a deep stream.

Kelvin from Kileaden, Co Waterford, was one of a number of “remarkable rescuers” to receive a national bravery award from Irish Water Safety in Dublin.

He was driving home on September 27 last year when he noticed that a car had veered off the road near Butlerstown, Co Waterford.

The vehicle that crashed on the N25 in treacherous conditions, landing upside down in a swollen stream.

Kelvin pulled into a lay-by and ran to the scene. A person who had arrived earlier had already called the emergency services.

He ran back to his car to grab a nail bar in case the door of the car was jammed shut.

He jumped into the water and got the car door open but could feel nothing when he reached into the passenger's side.

He resurfaced and then went back down again to search the back of the car. At first he could not see anyone but then noticed a man's hand floating in the water.

The man, who was in his 70s, had managed to remove his seatbelt and Kelvin was able to grab hold of him and pull him out of the car.

“I just jumped into the water. I could not stand there and watch someone drown,” said Kelvin.

"I could not see a thing and had to feel my way around. The car was almost full of water at the time.

“I was reaching around the vehicle, caught the man's hand and pulled him out.”

Unable to pull him fully to safety because of the position of the car, Kelvin had to hold him up for as long as it too the emergency services to arrive.

It felt like an age but I think it was only five minutes before help arrived.

The man made a full recovery and his family have thanked Kelvin for saving him.

Kelvin, who cannot swim, said he hated water and would not go in a swimming pool on holidays.

His valiant rescue has not made him change his mind either. “I have not learned how to swim since and I am not going to,” he said.

Another bravery award recipient was Ronan Dinan, originally from Cork but now living in Carrick on Suir in Co Tipperary.

Ronan was driving past the locked marina in Carrick on Suir on May 13 when he noticed a man in distress in the River Suir.

Ronan got a ring buoy and threw it to the man, who he could not see, before climbing over a high fence and jumping onto the platform.

“He was going under the water and coming up again beside the boats. I was able to get out and catch hold of his hands.

I was holding him for about 15 minutes. It was a really long time. He was wearing all of his clothes and I could not get him out of the water.

Niall Geoghegan, a volunteer paramedic with Mountain Rescue Ireland, living in Carrick on Suir and Garda Billy Lonergan, who is based in the town, got into the water to help in the rescue.

“Between the three of us, we were able to get the man out of the water and then I stood back while Niall and the Garda officer performed CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) on him."

Ronan said friends of the man contacted him afterwards to say he was recovering in hospital and would be ok.