Brave Police officers put themselves in danger to rescue man from M5 Avonmouth Bridge

Two police officers who put themselves in danger to help a distressed man on a busy motorway have been nominated for the national Police Bravery Awards 2024. On the evening of Sunday, May 28, 2023, having just left the scene of a serious road traffic collision on the M5 northbound split level, Avon and Somerset officer Sgt Nicholas Dalrymple was alerted to a concern for welfare incident involving a pedestrian on the M5 southbound carriageway on the Avonmouth Bridge.

Sgt Dalrymple, a dog handler based at the force’s Wilfred Fuller Operational Centre, was first on the scene and as he drove onto the bridge, he was initially unable to see the pedestrian due to the dark conditions. As he approached the midway stage, at the bridge’s highest point, he saw a man standing on the live carriageway. Due to it being a Bank Holiday, the motorway was busy with a heavy flow of articulated lorries and other vehicles travelling at significant speeds.

Sgt Dalrymple could see the man was in distress and immediately activated his emergency lighting and sirens and positioned his vehicle across the carriageway to slow the traffic down, but it had little effect. Sgt Dalrymple didn’t have time to put on his florescent PPE due to the escalating risk and the imminent danger the man was in, so he got out of his vehicle and attempted to engage with him.

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The man didn’t respond but ran towards the officer and the oncoming traffic, with motorists breaking sharply to avoid hitting him. Fortunately, the northbound carriageway was still closed due to the earlier collision. It was at this point that off-duty officer PC Mitchell Raymond, who was driving home from work, pulled over on the hard shoulder after being forced to swerve. The two officers had never met before this moment. PC Raymond, now a response officer based in Bristol, grabbed his body armour from the boot and rushed to help.

Due to the continuing danger the man was in, as well as the clear risks to other members of the public using the motorway, PC Raymond deployed his PAVA spray, and the man was able to be safely detained while further police resources arrived at the scene. The man was then able to get the medical help and support he needed.

Both officers received a Chief Constable’s Commendation on November 29, 2023. Speaking about the immediate aftermath of the incident, Sgt Dalrymple said: “I went back to my car and sat there for five minutes. I was doing some contemplating, thinking ‘that was close’.

"There are not many times you think, I could die here, but that definitely crossed my mind as cars were nearly hitting us. You’re not thinking about us getting hurt, it’s a concern about letting someone down, or letting their family down, it’s that sense of responsibility which hits you hardest. This shows what policing is all about. I have never met Mitch before, but we wear the same uniform and clearly have the same values and ethics in serving the public…that’s when policing works, when we all come together and make it work.”

PC Raymond added: “I knew I had to act to try and save someone’s life basically. There were a lot of thoughts going through my head. As a police officer you’re essentially never off duty and you always want to be able to save lives. In those moments, your personal safety is in the back of the mind but it’s always on the other person, who is in danger. It’s an instinct which kicks in and takes over, you know you have got to do something. It’s a surreal feeling to be nominated. It’s a very proud moment. “

Avon and Somerset Police Federation Vice Chair Iain Prideaux said: “During 2023, Avon and Somerset Constabulary once again faced a challenging year when our officers and staff stood tall and faced into serious threat, harm and risk. Many officers received recognition for their outstanding actions, and it is my great pleasure to nominate Sgt Nicholas Dalrymple and PC Mitchell Raymond for this year’s annual bravery award ceremony.

“Their actions on a busy motorway and facing into oncoming vehicles, rescued a man from serious harm or death, and protected other members of the public who were using the motorway at that time. The force values of caring and courage were on display when both officers put their own lives at risk to save others. As so many of our officers do day in and day out, they preserved life and kept the public safe.”

Chief Constable Sarah Crew said: “The actions of Sgt Dalrymple and PC Raymond were incredibly brave as they placed themselves in imminent danger to save a man in distress, and to keep other road users safe. We know police officers run towards danger and not from it, and this is exactly what happened during this incident. They embody our values of caring and courage and are a credit to policing. We’re extremely proud of them and they fully deserve to be recognised and celebrated on this national stage.”