A brave dad has been hailed a “real-life superhero” after rescuing two drowning schoolboys from an ice-covered drainage pond.
Father-of-two Martin Graham, 39, was watching TV at home when his wife alerted him to terrified cries for help.
He ran outside and followed the screams until he arrived at the edge of a large, artificial basin that collects run-off surface water from the housing development on the Hopefield Estate, Bonnyrigg, at around 6.45pm last Thursday.
To his horror, he realised that two boys had fallen through ice in the middle of the sustainable urban drainage system (Suds), and were up to their chests in freezing water.
He said: “The boys were frantic and screaming that they were drowning. They were panic stricken. I took off my jacket and went on to the ice but it was breaking up all around me.
“It was pitch black and I couldn’t see a thing.
“I talked to them and tried to calm them down, and after instructing them to punch through the ice and make their way towards me, I somehow managed to pull them to safety.
“They were pretty traumatised by the time the emergency services arrived.”
Pals Lewis Curry and Jack Millar, both 13, had been struggling for five minutes and, according to paramedics, would not have lasted much longer.
Lewis said: “I was being an idiot and walked across the ice first. I don’t know what I was thinking. It was fine until I got to the middle, then all of a sudden it shattered and I plunged into the water. Jack tried to help me out using a stick but because I am heavier he ended up falling in too.
“We started shouting for help. That’s when Martin arrived and he encouraged us to punch through the ice and make our way to the shallower water.
“We all make mistakes but that is one I will not be making again. I really thought I was going to die. The paramedics said if we had been in the water much longer they would have been fishing us out with poles.”
Lewis’s mum, Lynne Brodie, was relieved to get her son home unscathed, save for some cuts to his hand that have become infected. “I’m just so glad that someone heard them screaming – what might have happened otherwise doesn’t bear thinking about.
“Martin was amazing – a real-life superhero. How do you thank someone for saving your son’s life?”
Police are reminding the public to be aware of the dangers around frozen stretches of water at this time of year.
Sergeant Graeme Brockie said: “Happily both of the boys were able to walk away but we would ask everyone to be aware of the dangers.
“This includes making sure that children are kept well away from frozen ponds or rivers and dog owners keeping their pets on a leash when they pass a frozen stretch of water.”
Peter Matthews, managing director for Taylor Wimpey East Scotland, said: “We are aware of an incident adjacent to our development of new homes in Hopefield, Bonnyrigg.
“We take the health and safety of residents, the local community and our staff very seriously. We would like to reassure residents that the Suds pond is surrounded by a fence that meets all statutory regulations, and there are additional warning signs to highlight the dangers of thin ice.”
Although fenced off, the Suds at Hopefield has been causing a stir on Facebook among those who feel it is too close to an existing play
Louise Bernard wrote: “It’s safety that needs addressed – buoyancy aids, water level indicator and possibly a safety net of some sort.”