A council worker has described the moment he rescued a cyclist from drowning after she careered into a canal on her bike.
Bill Reside (54) dived in to the water near the bridge at Townhead, Kirkintilloch and pulled the woman to safety.
The drama unfolded just after 9am last Friday, September 18, at the section of the canal at the new Southbank flats.
The cyclist, who was in her 40s, had swerved to avoid a walker pushing a children’s buggy and plunged into the deep water.
Modest hero Bill, a youth provision worker with East Dunbartonshire Council, told the Herald: “I had just headed into my office when I heard a shout for help.
“I looked out of the college window which overlooks the canal and I knew there was a person in the water.”
Bill ran to the canal side and said he saw a “blue and white thing” in the water.
He said: “I thought it was a ball, then I realised it was a cyclist helmet.”
He realised the woman was fighting for her life.
Bill said: “She was coming up and then disappearing underneath the water. She looked totally exhausted.
“I just dived in. The water is deep at this part of the canal. I am 6ft 1ins tall and I couldn’t stand on the bottom.”
Bill, who is a qualified canoe instructor, has lifesaving experience and was able to use these skills to hold the lady’s head above the water.
But with a steep bank on either side, he was then faced with the dilemma of how to get them both out of the water.
He said: “I thought ‘there’s no way I will be able to get her out of here. I was also getting out of breath.”
Then he spotted a tyre bolted up against a wall.
He said: “I managed to get us across to it and then with a bit of manouevring I found a concrete bock I could put my feet on.
“There was also a metal beam sticking out and I held on to that. I put my knees in an upward position and somehow was able to push the lady up to safety. Then I got myself out”.
By this time the police and an ambulance were on the scene.
Bill said: “It had all happened so quickly. We both gave each other a hug. I noticed her lips were blue and she was taken into the ambulance very quickly.”
Bill and the local woman were both taken to Glasgow Royal Infirmary to be checked over.
He said: “I saw her briefly in the hospital and she just gave me the thumbs up that she was ok. It’s nice to know I got her out - but really, anybody would have done what I did.
Bill, who has worked in and around water for much of his career in outdoor education, wants to stress the dangers posed around canals.
He said: “I am so keen about raising awareness of being around water.
“At the moment, I am trying to introduce a rookie lifeguard course at Kirkintilloch Leisure Centre.
“This happening makes it all the more important.”
Southbank resident Lynn McEwan told the Herald how she saw the whole drama unfold from the window of her flat.
She too heard a cry for help.
She said: “I looked out but at first I couldn’t see anything. Then I heard a call for help again. I opened the window and I heard a man say ‘It’s ok, I have got you.’
“I spotted a woman in cycling clothes and a man standing next to her. This guy had obviously saved her. Both of them were wet. He was dressed very smartly like he was maybe going to his work.
“She was very lucky someone was passing at the time.”
A police spokesman at Kirkintilloch said: “This man really was a local hero.”
They also want to warn local people, particularly walkers, runners and cyclists to be aware of the dangers of canals. Pupils of local schools also use the canal path daily en route to class.