Humble Wangaratta cop to receive bravery honour for saving drowning man

Sergeant Scott Bradley
Sergeant Scott Bradley

When Sergeant Scott Bradley jumped into Wangaratta’s Ovens River to save a drowning man in 2014, he never considered that he was doing something brave.

A Vietnamese man who suffered from Alzheimer’s Disease had gone missing from Wangaratta hospital at about 1pm on November 9.

The police officer’s actions to find him and save his life has earned him a silver medal bravery award, to be presented by the Royal Humane Society of Australasia on Wednesday.

“It’s humbling – no one does these things to expect anything,” he said.

“We do lots of jobs where it takes more bravery than jumping in a river.”

Sergeant Bradley recalls that police were told the man in his 60s had a limited understanding of English and could not look after himself.

After 40 minutes of searching, they spotted him by the Ovens River.

Unfortunately the man became distressed at the sight of law enforcement and walked fully clothed into the fast-moving river, where he struggled to keep afloat in the strong current.

Sergeant Bradley saw his head go under the water three times and said he was not thinking about much when he made the decision to go in after the man. “There was a job to be done, so I jumped in,” he said.

The man had managed to grab hold of a branch so Sergeant Bradley borrowed an inflatable raft children were playing with nearby.

It’s not a rescue device he has had to use again.

He swam through fallen trees, branches and other submerged obstacles against the strong current and after about five minutes of conversation working through the man’s limited English, he convinced him to get onto the raft.

Sergeant Bradley then swam him back to safety.

He will have his wife and two children by his side at Government House on Wednesday to be presented with the award by Governor of Victoria Linda Dessau.

The language barrier and Alzheimer’s made it difficult for the Vietnamese man to express his thanks or keep in contact with Sergeant Bradley and he has since moved on from the Wangaratta area.

The officer’s actions were widely praised by police colleagues, including his bosses who said they were very happy to have him as part of their team.

Two colleagues who were part of the rescue team, Sergeant Robert Sweetland and Leading Senior Constable Travis Park, nominated Sergeant Bradley for the award.