Firefighter who put his ownlife at risk is hailed a hero

Date: Friday 26th April 2019
Appleby crew manager Steve Wharton gets a hug from Kacper’s mother, Wioletta
Appleby crew manager Steve Wharton gets a hug from Kacper’s mother, Wioletta

AN Appleby firefighter has been hailed a hero and recommended for a bravery medal for his role in Kacper Krauze’s dramatic rescue.

Steve Wharton, who has been a retained firefighter in the town for nearly 20 years and is the Appleby fire crew manager, will be put forward for a bravery medal having put his own life at risk to pull Kacper from the River Eden.

The 49-year-old lives in Garbridge Lane with his wife Caroline and they have two children, Laura and Daniel. He works as a painter and decorator.

Appleby town councillor Hugh Potts has called for Steve to be honoured with a bravery medal from the fire service for his heroic actions.

Steve was one of the first on the scene in a team of six Appleby firefighters. He described how crew managers are able to use their discretion to move away from normal protocol when a life is at risk.

“I took my helmet and buoyancy aid off and went into the water. He was on the river bed about 10ft to 12ft deep,” he said.

Steve was guided by Helen Holmes, who had seen Kacper enter the water and had also tried in vain to rescue him herself. “I found him and as soon as I came up with him I grabbed a throw line and they pulled us in,” he said.

Kacper was handed over to waiting paramedics and Penrith BEEP doctor Theo Weston, who worked to save him before he was airlifted to hospital.

“It was a precarious situation but it’s just part of the job. You just get your gear on and get on and do what you’re trained to do,” said Steve.

Speaking at a meeting of the town council Mr Potts said: “It’s great to hear 13-year-old Kacper is now improving from his accident in the River Eden at Holme Farm Bridge. His survival is to say the least beyond belief and all parties involved in his rescue have the thanks of all of us.”

He said many people had played a part in the rescue but he picked out local residents Helen Holmes and Chris Pigney for their efforts.

“I would like to also mention one extremely brave man who, I think, actually saved Kacper’s life. This was firefighter Steve Wharton, who, having difficulty looking for Kacper, removed his life jacket and dived under the water where he managed to find Kacper and pull him out,” said Mr Potts.

His proposal that such bravery and devotion to duty should not go unnoticed was agreed by councillors.

Mr Potts asked the council to write to Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service and Cumbria County Council asking them to note Steve’s bravery and put him forward for a fire service medal for distinguished service and gallantry.

“This, to my mind, is not a lot to ask when someone risks his own life to save a 13-year-old boy’s life,” he added.

Appleby deputy mayor Jilly Dixon-Dougherty also praised several teenagers who were at the scene of the rescue. “There was a lot of children there that day that entered the water and showed exceptional bravery. I would like that recognised on what was a terrifying day for them,” she said.