A MOTHER dived into a river to rescue her son from being swept away by rapidly-moving currents in Moors Valley Country Park.
Sue Read, 39, from Verwood, took her two children, Connor and Olivia, to the beauty spot with friends Hannah and Steve Seabright, and their daughter, Jane.
However, the group outing took a disastrous turn when 11-year-old Connor, who has severe learning difficulties, slipped into the water.
The legal secretary said panic gripped the group as Connor struggled to stay afloat in the five-foot-deep water and they desperately tried to reach him from the riverbank.
“His head was bobbing up and down in the water and he was being taken away by the current,” said Sue.
“I knew that if I didn’t go in straight away we would lose him.”
Sue said she was not conscious of the cold when she jumped in and managed to grip the hood on her son’s coat to drag him to safety.
“We just collapsed on the bank.
“He was very frightened,” she added.
Drenched and freezing cold, it took 30 minutes for the group to get back to their car before drying off at home.
Hannah, 41, who calmed the children and kept them away from the edge of the river as Sue helped Connor, said the incident was traumatic and that she phoned the rangers’ office to suggest life belts and better signage should be installed.
Judith Plumley, head of community and leisure at East Dorset District Council, said the country park provides a natural environment and that they rely on people to be responsible for themselves and those they care for. She added: “As part of the risk assessment for the park it has been considered that life rings or throw lines are not necessary as the likelihood of someone falling into the water is extremely low.”