Hero police officer who rescued suicidal woman from freezing sea honoured at national ceremony

PC Stephen Vaughan was nominated at the national Police Bravery Awards. Photo: Suffolk Constabulary.

PC Stephen Vaughan was nominated at the national Police Bravery Awards. Photo: Suffolk Constabulary. - Credit: Archant

The bravery of a Lowestoft police officer who dived into the freezing North Sea to save a suicidal woman has been recognised at a national ceremony.

PC Stephen Vaughan was recognised at the Police Federation's Bravery Awards on Thursday, July 12.

The awards are held every year to honour police officers who have performed outstanding acts of bravery on or off duty.

PC Vaughan's heroics took place during a late shift last New Year's Eve.

The dog handler was alerted that a highly vulnerable woman had left hospital against medical advice and was likely heading to the seafront to harm herself.

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Earlier that day the woman had been taken pills, drank vodka and revealed to staff at the hospital she intended to take her own life.

Due to harsh weather conditions the National Police Air Service helicopter was unable to use its helicopter to help search the seafront.

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And while the coastguard was aware of the situation it was still unknown whether or not the woman was in the water.

Thinking fast, PC Vaughan decided to search on foot and quickly spotted a body floating in the water.

Without any consideration for his own safety the police officer dived into the treacherous December North Sea.

He battled thorough the waves to the woman and dragged her back to the beach.

Although wet and cold himself he immediately began performing CPR; he found a pulse and knowing that help was on the way he placed her in the recovery position and monitored her condition.

He continued to do this until an ambulance crew arrived and took over care.

Thanks to PC Vaughan's bravery the woman was taken to hospital and following treatment made a full recovery.

A Suffolk Police spokesman said: 'There is no doubt if she had been in the cold North Sea for much longer she could have died in the sea, alone.'

Speaking at the ceremony PC Vaughan said: 'It was very humbling to be part of this event. It was a great occasion, quite emotional at times, and it was nice that so many people received recognition for their actions.'

As well as attending the ceremony PC Vaughan, along with 80 officers from 40 forces, visited 10 Downing Street for a daytime reception.

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