Published: 06:00, 28 April 2020
An ex-surfer has told of the moment he jumped into the River Medway to save a man from drowning.
Hicham Yasmine was cycling along the riverside in Maidstone on his way home after his shift at a print works when he spotted a man staggering along about 200m ahead.
He appeared to Mr Yasmine to be in his 60s and drunk and, already nearing the banks as he wobbled along the walkway, suddenly fell head-first into the water.
Mr Yasmine, who has experience in professional surfing and as a lifeguard, watched the man as he fought to swim but continued to sink further.
So he put down his bike, took off his jacket and shoes and lowered himself into the river, swimming out about two metres to reach the man, who by now was fully submerged apart from his feet.
Mr Yasmine, 48, said: "I grabbed his foot and swam back to the edge of the river. I asked a couple who'd been sat on the grass to hold onto his foot as I got back out and then me and another man pulled him onto the side."
At first, the man was unconscious but the movement of being dragged onto the bank caused him to vomit and begin speaking - but it was so slurred no one could understand him.
"By this time quite a lot of people had stopped to see what was going on and I asked the man who helped me to call the police and an ambulance.
"I had to speak to them to explain where we were and when I heard the sirens I ran about 50m to get up to the bridge so they could find us," said Mr Yasmine.
Police and paramedics arrived at the scene, close to the Broadway, at around 3pm on Wednesday, April 22.
Mr Yasmine added: "They took my details and told me I could go but at about 4pm I went out with my son for a bike ride and saw police were still there and part of the river was blocked off. I thought maybe he didn't make it."
But the father-of-two's mind was put at rest when he received a phone call from the police to thank him for his efforts and was told the man was in hospital but would be all right.
"I couldn't sleep that night after all that had happened. A chief commander from Maidstone also called me the next day to thank me. He told me I'd saved the man, how brave I was and said he wanted to meet me. It was very nice," he said.
This wasn't the first time Mr Yasmine has saved someone from perishing in the water.
Growing up in Casablanca, Morocco, Mr Yasmine spent his younger years on the beach, surfing and earning money as a lifeguard. He would often have to drag people out of the sea when the currents became too strong for them.
He said: "There were two times when the people could have died - once I helped a girl who was about 17 and a different young lady another time."
Mr Yasmine now lives in Maidstone with his wife Diana and two sons, Dean, 17, and Ryan, 9.
Mrs Yasmine, who contacted KentOnline regarding her husband's valiant efforts, said: "He is my hero and thinks he did not do anything special.
"I think my husband is half human and half fish, he used to be a professional surfer in Morocco and would spend a minimum of eight hours a day in the water."