A teenager has been hailed a hero after diving into a canal and saving a drowning toddler.
Courageous Ryley Ferguson, 15, was walking his dogs when he spotted 15-month-old Reggie Hampton topple into the water.
He immediately cast off his shoes and coat and swam to the other side of the Aire and Calder Navigation, in Knottingley, West Yorks, to pluck panic-stricken Reggie from below the surface.
Now Reggie’s mum Becca has dubbed Ryley a ‘guardian angel’ after saving her son’s life.
Teenager Ryley Ferguson, 15, (left) saved the life of 15-month-old toddler Reggie Hampton when he jumped into a canal to help prevent him from drowning on Sunday afternoon
Reggie had been playing in the garden at home on Sunday, when about 4pm he wandered, unbeknown to mum-of-two Becca, through a makeshift gate and onto the towpath.
Ryley was walking his lurchers on the other side of the canal when he saw Reggie tumble in.
He said: ‘Basically, I was walking the dogs on the other side of the canal and I could hear this little kid shouting us and waving.
‘I realised how young he was and with him being on the other side I thought I need to go and get him or he’s going to go in. I could see him playing in the grass.
‘A few seconds later, he did and I saw his legs sinking, I threw my coat off and jumped in after him.
‘When I got to him he was basically at the bottom of the canal.
‘I’d managed to get him but I was in the water shouting for help for about five minutes until two men came and helped me.
‘For about 5 to 10 seconds the little lad was thrashing about and I was trying to tread water.
Reggie had been playing in the garden at home, when he wandered, unbeknown to mum-of-two Becca, through a makeshift gate and down towards the canal. Luckily Ferguson saved him
‘I was telling him “I have got you, you are going to be alright”.’
‘Since it’s happened I’ve been OK, it doesn’t feel real and I did what anyone else would do, it’s just lucky that I was there because 30 seconds later, he would have been dead.’
Ryley, who is currently looking for an apprenticeship in electrical engineering, added: ‘Really, everybody is making a big thing about it, but I only did what anybody would do in that situation.’
Ryley’s parents Michael and Amy, both 38, said they were ‘super proud’ of him.
Amy said: ‘It’s all overwhelming, obviously we are really proud of him.
‘We heard from one of the neighbours near the canal that they saw what happened and she said Ryley didn’t hesitate and jumped straight in after the toddler.
‘He was brilliant, he wasn’t strong enough to help the kid out of the canal, and he was holding him above water for some time so it’s lucky people came to help.’
His dad added: ‘If he had been seconds later that kid would have drowned and no-one would have known where he went.
Ferguson’s parents, Amy and Michael (centre) have stated that they’re ‘super proud’ of him
‘He must have had somebody watching over him.’
Local councillor Tom Gordon called on the mayor of Wakefield Council to ensure that Ryley receives recognition for ‘his brave and selfless actions’.
He said: ‘Our town is extremely fortunate to have a lad like Ryley.
‘He’s a hero and he deserves to be recognised as such.’
Locals have also started a campaign for Ryley to be given a Pride of Britain Award.
On Monday, a thankful Becca, hugging Reggie, said: ‘It all went so quick to be honest.
‘One of the neighbours said to me ‘your boy is in the canal’ and that was it*my heart ripped out.’
She took a photo of Ryley with Reggie in his arms and wrote beside it on Facebook: ‘Our hero right there with my boy ****..this photo will be getting printed and put into a frame and put where Reggie can see it..so he knows who his guardian angel is..Reggie will always know who his hero is..and we will forever be in your debt..xxx’
A resident has set up a go fund me page to give a cash reward to Ryley, but he is not going to accept it. He will donate money raised to the NHS.