Drink Danger Warning After Two Shrewsbury River Rescues
A senior officer, Chief Inspector Dave McWilliam said the men were lucky to be alive and had also put others who came to their aid at risk.
The separate incidents, involving heavily intoxicated men aged 18 and 40, happened in the space of just four days.
"They highlight, yet again, the extreme dangers of walking near the river when under the influence of alcohol," said Chief Inspector McWilliam. "We have had similar incidents which have ended tragically and these two might also have drowned.
"People enjoying a night out in Shrewsbury should not go anywhere near the river if they have been drinking. The river is extremely dangerous. Anyone falling in or going into the water is likely to end up in difficulty."
The most recent incident happened in the early hours of Saturday morning when a woman phoned police to say she had heard a splash and believed someone had fallen into the river near the Shrewsbury Amateur Boxing Club premises on Smithfield Road.
Officers arrived within minutes to find that four or five passers-by had formed a human chain to rescue an 18-year-old man and another man who had fallen into the water while trying to help.
"It transpired the young man was walking home drunk and somehow fell into the river after becoming separated from his friends. Fortunately, someone heard him shouting and splashing. One of those trying to assist also ended up in the river and had to be helped out. It could have ended as a double tragedy."
Three days earlier, a 40-year-old man fell into the river about 50 yards above the weir in Castlefields while walking home at around 2.30am. Fortunately, his cries for help were heard by a nearby resident and the alarm raised. The man was desperately clinging to chains lining the tow path when rescued by police officers. He was treated by paramedics before going to the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital for checks.
"Again, he was heavily in drink having been out in town and had fallen from the tow path while making his way home," said Chief Inspector McWilliam.
He said: "These two incidents serve as another reminder as to how dangerous the River Severn can be and that people should treat it with extreme caution.
"The fact is that Shrewsbury town centre, with its pubs and clubs, is enclosed by the river and virtually everyone making their way home after a night out has to either cross it or pass close by.
"During the past six or seven years, there have been at least 24 deaths in the River Severn through Shropshire, the majority in the Shrewsbury area. Furthermore, somewhere approaching half were people heavily intoxicated and walking home alone.
"There have been many more incidents where people the worse for drink have been rescued from the water. And during the same period, the police have attended well over 100 incidents involving people at risk in, or near, the river in Shrewsbury."
"I am concerned many people do not fully appreciate the potential dangers, especially when their judgement is impaired by alcohol. I am renewing our warning to help increase public awareness of this safety issue."
Shropshire Council has previously carried out safety improvements along the river banks and a number of initiatives have also been introduced to help safeguard vulnerable people.
Chief Inspector McWilliam added: "The fact remains people will inevitably come into close proximity to the water while making their way home and a degree of personal responsibility has to be taken.
"We strongly advise that wherever possible, people who have been drinking heavily should not be walking home alone - their friends need to look-out for them. Furthermore, it makes sense not to drink to such excess that normal senses are seriously impaired. At such times, people think they are invincible whereas in fact, they are at their most vulnerable. If it's been a good night out, then either walk home with friends or catch a taxi."