Published: 06:00, 12 June 2019
| Updated: 07:00, 12 June 2019
Three friends saved the life of an elderly man who jumped into the sea near Minnis Bay to rescue his beloved dog.
Ryan Heywood, Josh Cox, and Steve Paxman, had been out jet ski-ing and got back to shore when a woman came running around the corner by Beresford Gap saying a man was in trouble.
The pals immediately jumped into action to help the stricken 83-year-old.
"As we ran over we saw he had the dog, but the man could barely swim anymore," said Ryan, 30.
"He was out of breath and had no energy left. He'd already made one attempt to reach the dog, so he was really tired.
"We ran round to get the life buoy but it was too far away so we just got in the sea and started swimming over.
"By this point he'd managed to get to a wall and he was clinging on."
When they reached the pensioner, Josh, 28, took the dog from him and swam back to shore where another friend, Hailey Delicata, started doing CPR on the animal, which sadly died.
Meanwhile, in the water, Ryan and Steve propped the man up under their arms and started to bring him in.
'He'd used all his energy trying to get to his dog' - Ryan Heywood
"We were talking to him, re-assuring him - I work on offshore wind farms so I've had some sea training," said Ryan.
"He was conscious but in shock. He'd used all his energy trying to get to his dog. When the tide's in it's quite deep there.
"He kept saying 'we were just going for a walk, he was just behind me'."
The man was brought to shore and assessed by an ambulance crew.
It happened at around 4.30pm on Thursday.
"It's pretty crazy," said Ryan.
"We were all a bit shocked afterwards. It's so lucky we were there as we had stopped to take a picture before heading off, otherwise we would have left already.
"We saved that old boy's life, but it's really sad as he lost his dog of 14 years."
Ambulance service spokesman Rich Airey, said they were called to reports a man had been helped from the water near Moray Avenue in Birchington at 4.30pm.
"The man was assessed and treated for minor injuries but did not require further hospital treatment," he said.
"We would like to thank the members of public who came to this man’s aid and called for assistance."
More by this authorMarijke Hall