British jump jockey Tom Garner is being hailed a life-saving hero in America after a day on the Pennsylvania gallops turned into a dramatic rescue from a flooded river.
Garner, who made his name when he rode Rayvin Black to success in Wincanton’s Kingwell Hurdle four years ago, has gone on to become a dual Grade One winner in the United States.
It was off the track, however, that he found himself in the thick of the action last week when he formed part of a four-strong human chain pulling a man, his baby and more stricken children from their part-submerged car in monsoon-like conditions.
All were hauled from the torrent to safety – with dramatic video footage being picked up by major US television networks.
The 29-year-old has gone global too, explaining to Sky Sports Racing how events escalated so quickly after what was a wet morning on the gallops.
“I was riding out, and it was raining (to start with) like it would at home (in England),” he said.
“I didn’t think anything of it – (but) then we went to get lunch and went through a flood which was fairly bad.
“We probably shouldn’t have driven through (even) in the Range Rover – it was a bit dodgy.
“But then when we came back, the river was completely overflown, and someone had driven a smaller car through – and it got wiped out.”
A third, bigger vehicle had also just managed to get through the flood water – and after the driver realised the family was in danger, the rescue was on.
Garner added: “We didn’t actually see who was in it, until luckily a loader came round the corner. Four of us – two guys we didn’t know, and a friend of mine – we jumped in the front and went down.
“It was quite apparent, when we got over the bridge, that there was a man holding his baby, and there were four other kids in the car.
“At that point, it was pretty serious – (but) we managed to get them out by getting the kids on the roof, because the water started to get in the car.”
It was perilously close to being dragged down river, with all occupants trapped inside.
“Luckily the car was being held up by a fence – but if it wasn’t, it could have been a lot worse,” said Garner.
“If it hadn’t been there, they could have gone down the river.
“At one point even the loader, which is about 12 tons, the current was starting to take it.
“We were starting to get a bit panicky then.
“There was one point where the eldest child nearly got taken by the current. I thought a couple of us might have to go for a dip, but luckily we managed to grab hold of him. The fence was bowing, so it was a race against time. But it all ended well.”
He added: “I didn’t think much of it afterwards, but then it was all over the news here – although I never actually saw it because we had a power cut. I didn’t see it until a few days ago, someone sent me the video.”
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