Rescue cops dismiss hero tag
Senior Constables Nick Harlin and Mal Lee. Picture: Ben Crabtree/The West Australian

Two police officers have recounted the dramatic rescue of a man whose car plunged into the Swan River on Sunday morning.

Within just eight minutes of receiving a radio alert while on traffic patrol in North Perth, Sen. Constables Nick Harlin and Mal Lee were diving off the Barrack Street jetty into the murky water and frantically searching for the submerged car.

They revealed yesterday they had no idea how many people were in the car at first, and were relying on touch as they duck-dived repeatedly in zero visibility before pulling a 30-year-old man free.

"We saw some bubbles coming up about 10 metres from the shore, so we looked at each other and thought 'we're going in'. So, we stripped off our gear and dived in the river," Sen. Const. Harlin said.

The car was resting on the river bed more than 4m below the surface. It is believed the man had been underwater for five minutes when the pair pulled him from the car.

"I gave a big pull and fortunately managed to get hold of the T-shirt of the chap, and pulled him up to the surface," Sen. Const. Harlin said.

With the help of a third officer - Const. Adam Gunnis - and a State Emergency Service volunteer, the officers brought the unconscious man back to the jetty where St John Ambulance officers performed CPR for about 15 minutes.

The pair were applauded for their actions, but Sen. Const. Lee said they were uncomfortable with the hero tag.

The man, from Yokine, is in a critical condition in hospital.

People seeking support or information about suicide prevention can phone Lifeline on 13 11 14.

The West Australian

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