A WIGAN woman was admitted to hospital with suspected back injuries after plunging into the River Douglas.
Within seconds her male partner had followed her, tumbling 15ft into the freezing waters off the footbridge at Martland Mill near Greenslate Farm.
Neighbours who heard screams for help triggered a full-scale rescue operation which at one point included fire crews from Wigan and Eccles stations, along with the Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service’s boat detachment from Worsley.
Police are still trying to establish whether the woman, aged 30, and from Marsh Green, fell off the bridge accidentally or had deliberatly leapt in.
It is believed that her 26-year-old male friend jumped off the bridge as well in an attempt to rescue her but injured himself in the process.
The rescue by firefighters, aided by police and ambulance services, proved technically challenging and took more than an hour to accomplish.
Wigan Fire Station’s White Watch had to create a safe platform over the river so that the pair could be moved onto spineboards to prevent any further injury.
Today fire chiefs warned of the potentially fatal dangers of misusing bridges over water in the pitch darkness of winter, when cold river temperatures can cause muscles to go into spasm.
White Watch Commander Ian Read said: “When we got there we found that the woman had somehow hit the river banking and flipped into the water of the river.
“The man she was with had fallen in as well but we still don’t know how he came to hit the water.
“We were worried that both may have serious spinal injuries, particularly the woman, so we had to make a makeshift platform from our ladders on supports with the river flowing underneath.
“We put the neck lock collars on them whilst they were still in the river and then got them onto our long boards and onto the platform.
“They were both conscious throughout but had clearly been on a night out.
“If people have gone out and had a drink, in whatever circumstances they get into, and they are over water, they must be very careful indeed.”