Bravery award for paramedic after desperate attempts to save woman
A PARAMEDIC from Newton Abbot has been given a top bravery award for his desperate attempts to save a disabled woman from drowning.
Nigel Lang is to receive a distinguished accolade for his bravery after Clair Perkins, 20, died when her wheelchair fell into the sea at Lyme Regis.
Clair, from Solihull, West Midlands, was waiting to board a cruise when her wheelchair rolled into the sea at the Dorset resort's famed Cobb on October 7, 2011.
Mr Lang, local fisherman Peter May and Miss Perkins' father dived in to try and save her.
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The efforts of Mr Lang and Mr May who lives in Dorset, are to be rewarded with a Royal Humane Society Testimonial on Vellum signed by Princess Alexandra.
Both their names were put forward by the West Dorset coroner who was told of their bravery at the inquest into the death of Miss Perkins.
On the day of her death, Miss Perkins, who was severely disabled, had met her idols, singers Jedward, and was on the pier with her parents waiting for a charter boat cruise.
In a split second while her parents were looking away, there was a noise behind them and they turned to find the chair had fallen into the sea.
Mr Perkins jumped into the water but was unable to reach his daughter and was forced out by the cold.
Mr May ran over and dived into the water, making several unsuccessful dives to find her.
Lifeboat crew members also entered the water but could not dive because of the buoyancy of their dry suits.
Mr Lang arrived in an air ambulance. He borrowed a facemask, took off his flying suit and boots and went into the water with a rope round his waist.
He dived four times and managed to locate the chair, get a rope attached to Miss Perkins and she and the chair were pulled to the surface by the RNLI crew.
She was airlifted to Dorset County Hospital but died later that day.
In addition to the awards, the courageous pair won the personal praise of Dick Wilkinson, secretary of the Royal Humane Society.
Speaking at the society's London headquarters as he announced the awards, he said : "What happened was truly horrific but Mr Lang, Mr May and Claire's father all went in the water to try and rescue her.
"Her father had to leave the water because of the cold. However, Mr Lang and Mr May braved the bitter cold in their fight to save Claire. They richly deserve the awards they are to receive."
Mr Lang did not wish to comment on the award.
Presentation of the awards is expected to take place in the near future.