Ice-trap boy saved by doctor

A boy of ten was rescued from a frozen pond by a doctor who dangled from a helicopter to pull him to safety.

Sam Munden, pictured above recovering in hospital, was struggling to stay afloat in sub-zero temperatures when Army doctor Major Malcolm Russell managed to haul him into the London Air Ambulance as it hovered inches above the ice.

Sam had fallen through the ice about 30 yards from land as he played with a friend on a frozen pond at Wanstead Park, East London, yesterday afternoon. While a passer-by dialled 999, the friend ran to fetch Sam's family, who live nearby.

They were unable to rescue him but the air ambulance, based at the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel, was on the scene in minutes. Dr Russell, 31, who is on secondment to the air ambulance, described how the crew decided to attempt an unorthodox rescue.

'Sam was trapped in the ice and as we circled overhead it became clear he was struggling,' he said.

'Where the ice had broken up it was stopping him getting his arms on to the surface. He was trying to swim, but his clothes were weighing him down. The fire service were trying to get to him but he was too far out and it was too dangerous.

'Myself, the flight paramedic John Warwick and the two pilots decided it was too much of a risk to leave Sam for any length of time.

'The pilots were unbelievable. They are ex-Navy and felt it was save to hover next to Sam.

I opened the door and stepped down on to the skids which were virtually touching the ice.

'John grabbed me by the scruff of the neck. I bent down, grabbed hold of Sam and hauled him into the aircraft. I wouldn't call it heroic. It was a team decision.'

Mr Warwick added: 'All the time on the way back I just hugged Sam to keep him warm.' Sam was detained in hospital overnight for observation.

His mother Sue, 40, said her son had not realised how deep the pond was. 'They had been told not to go near the ice,' she said. 'When I got there, there were a lot of neighbours and people talking to Sam, encouraging him to keep afloat.

'I think their help in keeping him calm made a difference. We're just very grateful the story has had a happy ending.'

A spokesman for London Air Ambulance said: 'This is very unusual for us as we are not a rescue service. The boy was definitely in danger. It was a pretty close call.'

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