A heroic dock master dived into freezing cold waters to save a six-month old baby boy after his buggy was blown in by strong winds.
The drama unfolded as
forecasters predicted a severe battering from the weather across the Westcountry today and into the week.
The child, who was strapped in the buggy, was swept into the water as his mother walked along Watchet Harbour, Somerset, yesterday at 8am.
George Reeder, 63, dived in and pulled the pushchair to the wall where a member of the public tied a rope to it and hauled it out – but not before the baby had been in the water for around five minutes.
The baby was revived by a passer-by using CPR and was taken to hospital.
Mr Reeder said: "I don't know exactly how he went in, but I was on the esplanade and heard the commotion and I assumed somebody's dog had gone into the water, so I went cycling over. They were on the West Pier, where you walk up to the lighthouse, some way away, but the noise travels and I could hear screaming from a woman.
"The mother was there and she said 'my baby has gone in the water', so I went to the edge and I could see the pushchair upside down, floating away.
"I just jumped in and pulled the pushchair back over to the edge of the quay, and then somebody put a rope down over and I tied it on and they lifted it out. As far as I know, what the police told me was that the wind blew the buggy in."
A spokesman for Avon and Somerset Police said: "The condition of the baby is believed to be no longer life-threatening."
Last night, Environment Agency chiefs issued 22 flood warnings across Devon and Cornwall as wet and windy pre-Christmas conditions return.
Bursts of sunshine yesterday and rising temperatures are melting snow – adding to the risk of floods.
A Met Office forecaster said the Westcountry could expect a battle with the weather over the next four to five days.
She said: "The swing in temperatures we're experiencing is melting the snow – last week we struggled to get passed 0C - we're now seeing up to 7-8C, which is average for this time of year.
"Across Devon and Cornwall we've been seeing some sharp showers and heavy rain is expected so we'll see flooding.
"There are still likely to be some isolated patches of ice and frost on the ground across Devon and Cornwall over the next few days because the ground is still cold.
"Over the next four to five days we're likely to see the wet weather we experienced just before Christmas returning with high winds leading to flooding in parts."
Across the country more than 200 flood warnings were in place with the South West expected to be the worst hit.
A flood warning was issued for parts of the River Exe – including the Exeter to London Paddington railway line, following rainfall overnight Sunday.
Environment Agency chiefs issued the warning for riverside locations and roads between Tiverton and Exeter including Bickleigh, Thorverton Mill, Nether Exe, Brampford Speke, Upton Pyne, the A396 and A3072 at Bickleigh and the Exeter to London Paddington railway line.
Sunday morning saw sun poking through the clouds form time to time in some parts but overnight last night more heavy rain was expected to sweep in across most areas continuing throughout the day.
Heavy rain will dominate much of Tuesday in both counties.
Wednesday is expected to bring some sunny intervals with light showers – similar conditions will prevail on Thursday.
Paul Gainey, spokesman for the Environment Agency said homes and businesses were not at risk from floods. He said: "The situation is not as bad as we first anticipated."