Hero pooch and good Samaritans rescue disabled woman from Crawley river

Julie-Anne Baker with her partner Paul McCollum and Cooper. Julie-Anne was saved after falling in a river in Maidenbower, Crawley. Pic Steve Robards SR1828856 SUS-181029-175603001
Julie-Anne Baker with her partner Paul McCollum and Cooper. Julie-Anne was saved after falling in a river in Maidenbower, Crawley. Pic Steve Robards SR1828856 SUS-181029-175603001

A disabled woman who fell into a river whilst out walking in a Crawley park has praised the good Samaritans and her ‘fantastic’ pooch who came to her rescue.

Julie-Anne Baker was walking in Madienbower Park with her four-year-old guide dog Cooper when she took a wrong turn.

The 57-year-old, who was born with a serious illness leaving her blind and partially deaf, ended up falling down a river bank and into a three-foot-high ditch where she became trapped.

She was unable to pull herself free and started panicking believing she may be stuck for a while, especially with the sun beginning to set on the late Sunday afternoon.

She said: “The bank was at the top of my head. All I thought about was how long was I going to be there? Am I going to be stuck here overnight?

“The bank is so high and I was quite a way down.”

Julie-Anne said she started shouting for help but couldn’t hear anyone nearby.

However, her Labretriver Cooper - who remained by her throughout - began barking to try and attract some attention and after 15 minutes a passer-by discovered the pair at the bottom of the bank.

He rushed to get more help and eventually Julie Anne was pulled to safety by a group of kind residents.

She said she believed it was down to Cooper barking and her shouting that the pair were discovered so quickly.

She explained it was not the first time the clever pooch had helped save her life with his quick actions stopping her from being hit by a car a few weeks previously.

“He (Cooper) is a lifesaver,” she said. “He’s a lovely boy.”

The good Samaritans continued to look after Julie-Anne making sure she was okay before helping her and Cooper home.

The ordeal unfolded on Sunday October 21 and Julie-Anne said she was very grateful for the group’s help.

She said she was a little bit sore but was not badly injured and wanted to thank the people who helped save her.

She said: “I just wanted to say thank you. They brought me all the way home just to see if I was alright. There are good people in this world.”

However, this not the first time the community has rallied in support of Julie-Anne.

In 2014 she became famous after being interviewed over West Sussex County Council’s then plans to make cuts to care for disabled people.

Her story moved people so much she received support from across the country with many people offering donations to help her.