Local heroes tell of battle to save man from Perthshire burn

© Angus Findlay/Phil Hannah
L-R: Eddie Hunt and Stuart Mckay

Rescuers have described their dramatic battle to save a dying man from a freezing Perthshire burn.

The 59-year-old got into difficulties when he plunged about 15ft from a bridge into icy waters near Errol.

The man was floating face down in the stream for around 25 minutes as locals fought through the darkness to find him.

© Phil Hannah
Stuart Mckay

Despite efforts to resuscitate the victim at the water’s edge, he died in hospital later that night. It is thought he may have struck his head on a metal pipe or a stone as he fell.

Rescuers Eddie Hunt and Stuart McKay were alerted by the screams of another man, 34-year-old Bryan Wrycza, who had also gone into the stream. They pulled him up the embankment, where they said he was “turning purple”. However, he was revived with a warm change of clothes.

© Angus Findlay
Rescuer Eddie Hunt at the bridge and burn where the 59-year-old man died

Emergency services were scrambled to the scene at the Pow of Grange on Friday evening.

Both of the men who were dragged from the water were taken to Ninewells Hospital in Dundee under police escort.

A force spokesman said the incident was not being treated as suspicious.

The pair had stepped off a bus moments before landing in the waist-height water.

© Angus Findlay
The bridge and burn where the man died near Carse of Gowrie.

It is understood one of the men had needed a toilet break and had asked the driver for a quick stop.

Mr Wrycza, from Dundee, jumped into the water after seeing his travelling companion fall in.

Mr Hunt, who lives beside the burn, said his partner Tori Hodgson answered a call from her father outside, saying that someone had gone into the water.

“I went out and saw the bus sitting at the side of the road,” he said. “The driver and a few passengers, including a young child, were still on board. I knew right away something serious must have happened.”

The 23-year-old call centre worker joined his partner’s father Mr McKay at the edge of the burn.

“We ran down to the water and there was one man trying to make his way out,” he said. “He was struggling to get up the slope, so we gave him a hand.

“But the other man had floated down stream. He was nowhere to be seen, it was pitch black.”

Eddie and Stuart were joined by at least one other man as they frantically searched the stream.

“My partner ran to get a torch,” said Eddie. “We were able to see a bit further along the burn and spotted the man lying a few feet ahead.

“We were able to drag him up onto the side, but by the time we got to him he must have been lying face under for about 25 minutes.

“We did our best, but we knew he wasn’t going to make it.”

Mr McKay, from Scone, said he had been heading home when he spotted the bus waiting at the side of the road.

The 46-year-old, said: “The driver seemed in a bit of a state and I asked him he was alright.

“He said two guys had fallen over the wall into the water. When I looked I could see one guy screaming for help.”

He said: “I pulled the first guy from the burn and got him up the bank where the bus driver got hold of him and took him away.”

Describing the moment he spotted the body floating about 35 ft ahead, he said: “I shouted for some rope but there wasn’t any so I just waded down and Eddie shone the torch on it.

“When I got there it was obvious a body that was face down.”

Mr Mackay said he pulled him back to shore, against the current, while another man Simon Simpson jumped in to help.

Mr McKay, who is trained in first aid, performed CPR on the man before police arrived and took over the efforts to save the man’s life.

He said: “I just did what anybody would do – it could have been one of my family.”

He added that he had not noticed the cold as he fought to rescue the two men.

“It’s not until the adrenaline slows down,” he said. “As soon as the police took over my job was over so – and I’m not being funny – I just got in the Jeep, took off my joggers and drove home in my boxer shorts.”

Mr Simpson, 43, who also lives locally, said he was on his way home from the cinema when he came across the incident.

“We waded into the water and got hold of him. Then we realised there was a high bank behind us, and we couldn’t possibly carry him up there.

“The two of us had to carry him for about 25 yards upstream before we could get him onto the bank.”

Mr Wrycza said: “It was very dark and he went over a fence and into the water.

“It was freezing, but I tried to pull him up the side. I tried to save him, but I couldn’t. I am very upset.”

At the height of the incident there were about eight police vans and three ambulances at the scene.

A police spokesman said teams were called to the area at around 8.20pm. “A 59-year-old casualty was taken to Ninewells Hospital, Dundee, but sadly was pronounced dead shortly thereafter,” he said.

“The other male, aged 34, suffered no injuries. There are no suspicious circumstances, and as with all sudden deaths, a report will be submitted to the procurator fiscal.”

A spokeswoman for Stagecoach added: “We are assisting police with their inquiries.

“The person involved had been travelling on one of our services between Dundee and Perth shortly before the incident occurred.

“Our immediate thoughts and sympathies are for the family of the person involved.”

Errol Community Council chairwoman Elizabeth Bright said: “It’s shocking news and a terrible time of year for something like this to happen. It’s very sad.”