A British diplomat is being hailed as a hero after saving a college student from drowning in China.
Stephen Ellison, the consul general in Chongqing, was walking near a river in the town of Zhongshan when he heard some screaming on Saturday morning.
A now-viral video shows the 61-year-old taking off his shoes and jumping into the water to rescue the student, who is seen lying face-down.
“She was unconscious, she was not breathing and for a short time we feared the worst,” the diplomat told the BBC, noting that he had no other choice but to “get in.”
Ellison takes part in triathlons. He said the student slipped into the river, and it was “pretty evident quite quickly that she was in trouble, she couldn’t swim.”
In the video, a flotation device is seen being tossed into the water after Ellison got hold of the student. Some of the onlookers then pulled the pair to safety.
After the incident, some reportedly invited Ellison to their home, offering him dry clothes, coffee and food. Additionally, they handed him a 20-foot (6-meter) painting scroll of Zhongshan Ancient Town, according to CGTN.
The 24-year-old student is reportedly recovering from the incident. She did not sustain any other notable injury.
Both the British and Chinese governments commended Ellison for his actions.
“We are all immensely proud of our Chongqing Consul General, Stephen Ellison, who dived into a river on Saturday to rescue a drowning student and swim her to safety,” the British Embassy in Beijing wrote on Twitter.
Zhao Lijian, a spokesperson of China’s Foreign Ministry, said Ellison deserves a “big praise,” according to Global Times.
We are all immensely proud of our Chongqing Consul General, Stephen Ellison, who dived into a river on Saturday to rescue a drowning student and swim her to safety. pic.twitter.com/OOgXqsK5oe
— UK in China 🇬🇧 (@ukinchina) November 16, 2020
Meanwhile, Twitter users hailed Ellison as a hero.
“Not all heroes wear capes. Glad to hear the student is OK. Well done Stephen,” one wrote.
Another commented, “The word ‘Legend’ is so often misused and frankly is a bit overused, which can weaken its overall meaning. That does not seem to be the case here. Stephen, you are a Legend. Incredible. Thank you.”
Feature Image Screenshots via British Consul General (Left), Embassy of the United Kingdom, Beijing (@ukinchina) (Right)