A POLICE officer has revealed how a heroic river rescue after a family’s car crashed turned to heartbreak.
Constable Carolyn Wright told how she and her colleagues were devastated by the death of Kirsten Duguid after they managed to save the life of her little sister, Amy.
Wright, 31, plunged into the icy waters of a flooded burn in pitch darkness near Ellon to rescue the girls.
They were trapped after their dad’s Audi A3 left the road and flipped on to its roof in the water.
Despite their efforts, 14-year-old Kirsten later died in hospital.
Colleagues struggled to open the door of the vehicle but Wright wrenched the door open with her police-issue crowbar to free 12-year-old Amy.
PC Wright and five colleagues, officers Andy Sawers, Kirsteen McArthur, Calum MacDougall, David Ritchie and John Grant,are nominated for bravery awards at the Scottish Police Federation Bravery Awards on Wednesday.
But she admitted the honour of the award is tempered with sadness at not being able to save Kirsten.
“I’ve got mixed emotions. It’s nice to have a pat on the back but a girl died and I don’t want to feel like I’m benefiting from it,” she said.
PC Wright had only been a front line constable for a year when she received the call last December.
PC Wright joined other officers at the scene near Mains of Arnage, but weren’t sure what was happening due to the thick fog in the area.
“The weather was quite foggy and cold,” she said.“I grabbed a torch and headed down the embankment.
“The man who had been driving the car was in the water, and my colleague jumped in, so I automatically went in behind him.
“It was odd, but there was a dog, I think it belonged to the family, sitting on top of the car.
“It’s funny how you remember little details but it was a cocker spaniel.”
Wright and her colleagues were still unsure what they were dealing with – until she shone her torch on the car.
“That’s when I could see the wee lassie peeking out between seats at the front passenger side,” said Wright.
“The doors were jammed and she couldn’t get out. The driver freed himself from the car but he couldn’t get in to free his daughters.
“At that stage I didn’t know there was more than one child in the car.
“She reached out her hand and kept saying, ‘Thank you, thank you’.
“My first instinct was to go to Amy and comfort her so I managed to get into the car, but couldn’t get her out.
“I held her hand and told her we were going to get her out.
“At that point my function was just holding her hand and shining the torch on the door my colleagues were trying to open.”
As they struggled to open it, PC Wright remembered she had a crowbar in her police car.
“My colleague was trying to open the door but it wasn’t working,” she explained.
“I told Amy I’d be back in a moment and went to my car for my crowbar.
“It seemed to do the trick and the door popped open and the wee lassie sprung out.”
Joy turned to despair for PC Wright and her colleagues when they realised Kirsten was still inside the car.
They performed emergency first-aid at the scene but couldn’t save her.
PC Wright paid tribute to her colleagues’ actions on the night, and said their close bond helped them cope with the trauma of the events.
She said: “We’re delighted to be honoured, but it’s a tragic event.
“We tried our best, but a girl died. It’s very sad. In another sense I’m proud we did the best we could that night.
“We were effective, efficient and I’m proud of the job we did — it was just such a shame we never managed to save the wee lassie.”
In a statement, Kirsten’s parents Lianne and Gary Duguid said: “We would like to thank all of the police involved for the bravery shown.
“Their efforts putting others before themselves is highly commendable and resulted in saving our daughter’s life.
“Special thanks also go to Constable Kevin Ross who provided compassionate support to us throughout.”