Hero schoolgirls formed human chain to save man, 74, who was ‘karate kicked’ into river

A pair of teenagers who formed a human to chain to rescue an elderly man after he was karate kicked into a river by thugs have been nominated for a bravery award.

Friends Ellie Hughes and Khloe Woods, both 15, were credited with saving the life of the 74-year-old after he was kicked into the freezing waters of the River Mersey in Cheshire back in April.

The angler, out fishing for the first time since lockdown, was stood on the riverbank near Riverside Retail Park in Warrington, when he was flying kicked from behind and launched into the water.

Footage of the attack circulated on social media later that day which showed the offenders running away laughing afterwards, the Manchester Evening News reports.

Ellie and Khloe were out for a walk when they heard a group of youths shout ‘there’s a man in the river’ close to where they were.

That’s when the pair refused to stand by, and rushed to help him.

“We walked faster at that point, just in case anyone was actually there and in trouble and when we saw the man in the water holding onto a branch, we just immediately started to help him out,” Ellie said.

The pair formed a human chain to help haul him out of the water.

“Ellie had hold of me and I reached out and grabbed the man,” Khloe said.

“I was worried that when he let go of the branch I might lose my grip and he would have gone down the river.”

“It was very scary. All the time I had hold of Khloe I was saying ‘please don’t fall’,” Ellie added.

Through their heroic efforts, the girls managed to get the man, who had a bloodied nose and was badly shaken, to safety.

Despite shaking with worry themselves, they offered to call him an ambulance but the man “didn’t want any fuss” and insisted on walking away from the scene unaided.

However, Ellie and Khloe have since met up with the victim’s family, who have thanked them for what they did that day.

The victim’s daughter said she believed the girls had saved her father by holding his head out of the water and pulling him to the bank despite his jacket being full of water.

She said her father kept being upset when recalling the incident as he was worried that but for the girls help that day, he might have had a heart attack and drowned.

“We didn’t really think about what we were doing that day but the man could have been family, and you would do the same for them if they were ever in trouble,” Ellie said.

Ellie’s dad, Ste Hughes, said afterwards he was “absolutely bursting with pride” when his daughter told him what happened.

“I don’t think they realise how serious it was and what they’ve actually done,” he said.

“I said ‘you’ve saved a man’s life’ – I don’t think they realise at that age.”

The girls have now been nominated for a top award.

They have reached the final four of the Young Hero category in the Amplifon’s ‘Best of British’ heroes awards.

They have been invited to the virtual awards presentation next Tuesday, October 5, which will be hosted by BBC One presenter Rachel Burden. Falklands War hero Simon Weston will be guest of honour and is a member of the panel of judges.

Set up in honour of global hearing specialist Amplifon’s founder, Second World War hero Major Charles Holland, the awards recognise courage and achievement in the categories including Service To Country, Charity Champion, Active Agers, Young Hero, Hero Pet, Celebrity Hero and Coronavirus Hero.

The judges will choose an Overall Hero Award winner from the category winners

In June Benjamin Bridgeman, 19, of Quebec Road in Warrington, who kicked the man into river, was jailed for 10 weeks for assault by beating at at Warrington Magistrates’ Court.

Earlier that month, a 16 year-old boy who cannot be named due to his age, who filmed the attack while it was happening and then posted it onto Snapchat with a smiling emoji next to it, was handed a 12-month youth referral order at Warrington Youth Court.

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