FIVE ‘good Samaritans’ helped to rescue a woman “with seconds to spare” after she became trapped in sinking mud in the canal at Chalford, and she has thanked them for saving her life.

Tracey Dyer was walking along the canal towpath with her dog, a white Boxer called Spud, when he jumped into the canal and got stuck in the reeds.

“I jumped in to save him, not realising there was sinking mud below the water which sucked me under and left me helpless,” she said. “The mud is so deep in places and as you move it causes a vacuum that pulls you under.

“A lady helped me get the dog out, but I got stuck and started sinking.”

Care worker Dee Boast was riding her bike along the towpath when she came across Tracey and Spud.

“Tracey asked if I could help her. Poor Spud was stuck and every time he moved he sank further in,” said Dee.

“Tracey got in and managed to get the lead, which was attached to a harness. We yanked him out of the water and I tied his lead to the leg of a bench.

“Then Tracey said ‘I can’t move, I’m sinking’. Then she said ‘Please don’t let me die’. That finished me. I said ‘I won’t’.”

Dee said she ran into the road and tried to flag down some of the passing cars.

“The lady in the first car got out and hung onto Tracey’s arm and tried to pull her close to the wall of the canal,” she said.

Dee stopped two more cars, including that of Christian Hillier and Samantha Moss from Ebley.

“We were just headed for Chalford Builders, when a lady in the road screamed for help,” said Christian.

“We dived out and left the car in middle of the road.

“A lady had hold of Tracey’s arm, but Tracey’s head was under water. The lady was trying to hold her up, but she was quite slippery from the canal.

“Sam grabbed her dress strap and dragged her round to the edge of the canal, then we hooked under her arms and managed to drag her out. She was unconscious by then.”

Tracey takes up the story: “Apparently they got me out but I wasn’t breathing so they had to do CPR until the air ambulance and the paramedics arrived and took over.

“The paramedics said 30 seconds longer and I would have been dead. It’s so scary.

“I am very battered and bruised, but alive because of the heroic people that saved me, and of course the air ambulance, who continue to save lives everyday.

“I’m eternally grateful.”

A spokesperson for Great Western Air Ambulance Charity said: “Our crew were called just after 3.30pm on Monday, August 3 to an incident in Chalford involving a person in the canal.

“They responded in the aircraft with two critical care doctors and a Specialist Paramedic on board, attending to the patient on scene before they were taken to hospital in a land ambulance.”

Tracey returned to the canal the next day. She said: “I went back to the ‘scene of the crime’ with my daughter as I had lost my Pandora bracelet which is sentimental to me.

“How innocent the canal looked with what looked like shallow clean water, but as I now know it’s an extremely dangerous stretch of water.

“On the brighter side, low and behold my bracelet was resting in the mud, all charms intact.

“We could see the drag marks where they pulled me out.

“Spud is none the wiser, still chilled, but there will be no more walks near water.”

Waterways charity the Canal & River Trust warns people against entering canals.

“Being by water is a lovely way to spend a summer’s day and our canals, rivers and reservoirs are excellent places for people to visit and cool down,” said a spokesman. “But it’s very important that people are aware of the dangers of going into the water.

“Inland waterways can look harmless but you can’t tell what is below the surface. The water is often murky, and you may not be able to see the depth or any obstacles in the water. And, as this lady found the canal bed is often very muddy. Canal water is also very cold, even on the hottest days.

“Canal towpaths are great for dog walks but we strongly recommend keeping your pet on a lead or under close control so that you can steer them out of harms way.”