A teenage boy has been hailed a hero after jumping into a canal to save a toddler from drowning.
Ryley Ferguson, 15, was on his daily walk with his two dogs when he spotted the 15-month-old in the water near his home in Knottingley, W Yorks.
The quick-thinking teenager threw his shoes and coat off to grab the toddler as he sank to the bottom of the canal.
Now Rebecca Hampton, 33, the relieved mum of rescued boy Reggie Johnson, has hailed Ryley as her ‘Guardian Angel’….and is backing calls by locals to give him a Mirror Pride of Britain award.
Ryley did not hesitate when he knew Reggie’s life was on the line.
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Reggie Johnson was saved after he fell into a canal
“I’m just so happy I was there and managed to dive in, in time to save him,” he said.
“I didn’t have time to think, I was just on my walk with my dogs when I saw him fall in. I took my shoes and coat off – it was pure instinct at that point.
“It all happened in a split second. Suddenly I was at the bottom of the canal and managed to grab him.
“I was pretty calm but the water was so cold,my heart was racing.
“In the end all that mattered was that he was okay. If I walked by just thirty seconds later, he could have died. I had to save him.”
Ryley struggled to get out of the canal as he was holding the toddler, but two men raced to pull him clear as he shouted for help.
Once they got out, little Reggie began to cry but Ryley says the tot calmed down after he reassured him, saying, ‘don’t worry, I got you’.
Rebecca was reunited with her son just moments later. She had been working in the garden, and her adventurous little boy had wandered into the canal which runs behind their home.
Mum Rebecca Hampton, 33, with Reggie
The single mum-of-two, who also has daughter Petal, four, says the families now share a “bond for life” and Reggie will grow up knowing what Ryley did.
“I keep saying Ryley is our guardian angel, he saved my boy and saved my life,” she added.
“Reggie will grow up knowing who Ryley is and what he’s done. He’s our superhero.”
A neighbour had rushed into our house and said Reggie was in the canal.
“The world stopped for me at that moment, I was in complete shock,” Rebecca recalled.
“I started shouting for him, it must have been a couple minutes at most but it felt like an eternity. I can’t tell you the relief when I saw my beautiful boy.
“I can’t thank Ryley enough, I gave him a card with some money but no money in the world will ever cover what he’s done for me.”
Ruby Ferguson, Amy, Michael and hero Ryley
Rebecca added that her son had suffered no ill effects – though she washed him in the sink at first to avoid the trauma of a bath.
“He is so fast for his age, I was busy in the garden so I did not see him,” she said.
“I cannot thank Ryley enough, I nominated him for Pride of Britain, I think he really does deserve it.
Ryley’s mum, care home cook Amy, was at work at the time of the rescue and couldn’t believe what happened.
Amy, who is married to Michael, would love to see her son get a Pride of Britain award.
“It is lovely that so many people have nominated him,” she said. “We’re very proud of him. He saw Reggie’s feet disappearing in the water.
“It is a good job he saw him, any later and they would not have had any idea where he was.”
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Amy, who has daughter Ruby, 12, added: “I couldn’t be prouder of Ryley, he did such a brave thing and he saved that boy’s life.
“I was shocked at first, but relieved that Ryley helped prevent a real tragedy.”
A gofundme page set up by neighbour Elizabeth McPhee has raised £1,000.
Ryley has refused any donations, and is giving it to the NHS charity.
Local councillor Tom Gordon said: “Our town is extremely fortunate to have a lad like Ryley.
“He’s a hero and he deserves to be recognised as such.”