Students' praised for keeping calm in a Malmesbury crisis
STUDENTS have been praised for keeping calm in a crisis as they battled to try and save a pensioner's life in Malmesbury.
Jim Smith was described as a strong, kind man who was well liked and a friend to many. He was a keen gardener and always strived to keep his own looking perfect.
The 88-year-old died after collapsing into the River Avon as he strimmed a hedge at the bottom of his garden last Tuesday (August 20).
Relative and good friend Roy Waine said he understood Mr Smith had suffered a heart attack before falling into the water.
Mr Waine said Jim's wife Audrey had raised the alarm and was helped by a neighbour as well as two teenagers who were nearby.
He praised Malmesbury School students Ella Whitehouse and Carrick Luke who rushed over to help and showed what he described as "absolutely wonderful" bravery and skill.
Ella, 17, will start Year 13 in September but also works part-time as a lifeguard at the Activity Zone. She said she had never had to use her training until now.
"I've never done CPR or mouth to mouth in a real-life situation but my training just kicked in that day," she said.
Neighbour Lawrence Lowes, who helped get Mr Smith out of the water, said the two teenagers did all they could to help.
"Jim was a fit chap and we worked on him a long time," Mr Lowes said. "Ella gave him CPR and put him in a good recovery position. We did think there was a small chance he would live."
Carrick Luke had been delivering leaflets when he bumped in Ella and the pair had been talking nearby.
"When I saw Mrs Smith rush out to ask for help, it felt surreal," he said. "I didn't know how to react but because I was with Ella, I felt like I didn't need to panic. I just got on with it."
A rapid response vehicle and two ambulances arrived less than 15 minutes after Mrs Smith dialled 999.
A spokesman for South Western Ambulance said despite the best efforts of everyone involved Mr Smith had died but he thanks members of the public for coming to help.
Mr Waine said: "You hear all sorts of bad things about youngsters so it is nice to hear something good for a change. Ella did a wonderful job performing CPR for a girl of only 17 and it would have been a real struggle to get Jim out of the river without Carrick."
Neighbours, friends and relatives said Jim Smith was a wonderful man to talk to. His funeral will be held on Monday, September 2.
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