POLICE have praised the quick-thinking and immense bravery of an Aberporth woman who saved an injured man from the sea.
Dyfed-Powys Police Inspector Owen Williams has commended mother-of-three Cora Thomas for her actions when she feared a man was in trouble off the coast at Ogof Llidw.
Cora was walking along the coastal path with her family on January 9, when she saw a group of people she suspected to have been drinking jumping from the rocks into the sea.
Immediately sensing the danger of the situation due to the combination of extremely cold weather, the possibility that they were drunk, and the fact it was getting dark, Cora stayed back from her family to keep an eye on the group.
But when they left, she feared someone had been left behind.
“It looked like they were having a party on the rocks, and when they saw me watching them they must have been worried I was going to report them,” Cora said.
“They walked off, but this one man had gone to the Ogof rocks, and the only way to get there and back is to swim – they had left him behind.
“I decided to stand there and watch, and I saw him get into the water, but he didn’t come back up.”
As Cora headed down the coastal path to get a closer look, she bumped into two men she knew, and explained what had happened.
The pair had not seen anyone, but as they looked down the cliff, they could see a pile of clothes on the rocks.
“I started screaming down to ask if anyone was there,” Cora said. “I did panic, but I thought I was going to see a body washing past us.
“After a minute or so, we saw him coming out of the water and he was clinging onto the cliff.
“He was so cold he was slurring, and couldn’t tell us his name.”
Dazed and confused, the man was wearing just underwear, had cut his foot and was struggling to speak, such was the cold he had been exposed to.
Realising they needed to warm him up as quickly as possible, Cora and the two men got him dressed, giving him a jacket to keep out the cold.
“He was slipping and sliding all over the place – we had to drag him up the cliff,” Cora said.
“He kept saying he was tired, and I was really worried if he fell asleep he could have fallen into a hypothermic coma. We had to try and keep him calm, and stop him from walking away or he could have slipped back into the sea.”
Police and Coastguard arrived at the scene shortly after, carrying the man by stretcher to an ambulance.
After hospital treatment, he was discharged and is understood to have recovered.
Looking back, Cora described the incident as “totally unexpected”.
“I’ve never been in that sort of situation before, and it was one of the scariest things I have ever been through,” she said.
“I’m glad I stopped when I did – I genuinely think that would have been the end of him if we hadn’t been there.”
Praising the emergency services for their response, Cora also highlighted the use of the what3words app, which pinpointed her location to the police.
“Even though I’m local, I couldn’t explain where we were,” she said.
“It was a mixture of panic and not knowing how to describe it. We downloaded the app, which gives you three words to tell the call handler – when they said ‘we’ve got your location and we’re on our way’ it was a huge sense of relief.
“Everyone should download it – you never know when you might need it, and it could save valuable time in an emergency.”
Inspector Owen Williams, of Cardigan police station, commended Cora and the two men for their actions.
“Had Cora not kept a close eye on the group jumping in the water, the man would have been left behind and in severe danger of being swept out to sea or suffering from hypothermia.
“Undoubtedly, her concern and prompt actions – as well as the invaluable help of the two men involved – contributed to preventing a tragedy that evening.”