‘Hero’ British diplomat praised in China after jumping into river to save drowning student

British diplomat Stephen Ellison rescues student from river in China

A British diplomat has been hailed as a “hero” in China after he plunged into a river to save a drowning student.

Stephen Ellison, who took up his role as consul-general in Chongqing just weeks ago, was walking by a river on Saturday morning when the unnamed 24-year-old woman slipped on rocks into the water.

Footage captured by onlookers shows the apparently unconscious student face down in the water as the 61-year-old Mr Ellison removes his shoes and jumps into the river.

After swimming to her side, Mr Ellison, who is also an accomplished triathlete, is seen flipping the woman onto her back then grabbing a lifebuoy attached to a rope that was thrown into the water by passers-by.

The pair were then dragged to the water’s edge, and the woman was pulled onto rocks before Mr Ellison climbed out.

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“She was unconscious, she was not breathing and for a short time we feared the worst. But as we got back to the side, she started breathing again,” Mr Ellison told the BBC.

He added the student, who attends Chonqing University, was shaken but is recovering and that she had invited him to dinner with her family next weekend.

In a statement on Chinese social media, the British consulate in Chongqing said Mr Ellison was cared for by locals in the town of Zhongshan, who got him hot coffee to warm up and gave him a spare set of dry clothes.

Footage of the incident has been widely shared in China, with many Chinese praising Mr Ellison’s intervention in a country that has made headlines in the past for incidents in which passers-by have ignored others in life-threatening situations.

“The kindness and bravery of human nature shines on this real gentleman,” one user on microblogging site Weibo said, while another added: “You’d call such a person a knight in the UK, in China we call him a hero.”

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