SNP MSP rescues elderly cyclist from freezing canal
An elderly man was rescued from a canal by an MSP who raced to pull him out of the water as he cried for help.
Bill Watson, 81, was cycling home when he ended up in the Forth and Clyde canal after losing his balance on his bike.
The pensioner tried to grip on to the banking but was unable to pull himself out of the water.
He was rescued by Ivan McKee, Glasgow Provan SNP MSP, who rushed to his aid when he heard his cries for help while he was out running.
Mr Watson said: “I was approaching the bridge over the canal and I was looking out for any fast bikes coming in the opposite direction.
“I realised I was over too far to one side and I couldn’t get back over and then I ended up in the water.
“Everything was really heavy and I was up to my neck in water. Then I could see a yellow figure approaching. The look on his face when he saw me in the water was something. He got me out the water. I don’t know how much longer I could have held on there for without being pulled under.”
Two girls passing by stopped and called for an ambulance while Mr McKeee stayed with Mr Watson.
He was taken to the Queen Elizabeth hospital and treated for hypothermia and then it was discovered he also had a heart problem. He was fitted with a pacemaker and released after four days.
The retired paper mill and glass factory worker makes the trip on his bike from North Kelvinside to Bowling, West Dunbartonshire, at least once a month.
Mr McKee was seven miles into a 16-mile run and was thinking it was nearly time to turn back when he heard the shouts.
He said: “It was only when I was really close that I could see he was in the water. He was holding on to the side and still had a hold of the bike.
“I pulled the bike out first then two girls who were passing helped me get him out and called for an ambulance.
“He was freezing when we got him out.”
Later once he was discharged from hospital the MSP’s staff helped Mr Watson locate his bike.
He said at some sections under bridges there could be more barriers where the path narrows.
The Forth and Clyde Canal is owned by Scottish Canals who monitor and maintain the waterway and the towpaths.
A spokeswoman for Scottish Canals said they “take safety incredibly seriously”, adding: “We hope the individual concerned is now safe and well.
“This was undoutedly a frightening experience but it highlights the dangers associated with an open body of water such as a canal.
“We take safety incredibly seriously but installing barriers along the canal is not always the best solution as they can make it difficult for water-based users, such as paddlers and boaters, to exit the canal in an emergency..
“However, we do work closely with community organisations and user groups throughout the year to promote our Towpath Code of Conduct and Canal Careful campaign, which was launched this year, highlighting the hazards associated with open bodies of water.
“We will continue to encourage all users to be mindful when travelling on or along the canal.”