A hero dad was captured on camera leaping into a freezing lake to rescue a lifeless baby – only to discover it was a toy DOLL.
James Dowley, 28, was driving home with dad Robert, 53, after collecting timber for their joinery business when they spotted a figure floating face down in the water.
The pair pulled over next to The Mere in Ellesmere, Shrops., at around 11am on January 9, and James leapt into the water.
James stripped down to his T-shirt and pants before wading 20 metres through the icy mere to reach the baby but was relieved to discover it was actually a life-size doll.
Hilarious snaps show the soaking dad-of-one clutching the plastic toy which was wearing a baby’s pink and black striped cardigan and white babygro.
James, of Welshampton, Shrops., said: “We drove past The Mere and caught a glimpse of what I looked like a tiny child floating in the water.
“It looked very life-like and was wearing baby clothes. I feared the worst but hoped like hell I was wrong.
“My father and I could not leave without confirmation of what it was or ringing the emergency services.
“If it was an actual baby, I just couldn’t live with knowing that I’d driven straight past it.
“We couldn’t drive off without confirming it was what we wanted it to be. I have a ten-month old baby girl myself, so the thought of it being an actual child was horrific.
“From a distance it looked very real and we were starting to convince ourselves that it was actually a real person.
“It was like something out of a horror movie. I had no idea what I was going to find when I jumped in there, it was very scary.
“When I first got in, the water was actually fairly warm, but as it came up to my knees and my private parts, it really started to get very cold and uncomfortable indeed.
“It was absolutely freezing, and I was in there for a good few minutes or so.
“I must have swam around 20 metres before I got to it, and thank God it was actually just a large doll in the end.
“It was just a quick splash in and out, which confirmed that it was just a large doll.
“I don’t think that it was particularly brave, I was doing what I hoped anyone else would have done.
“I did feel like a bit of an idiot, coming out of the water carrying a toy doll, but at the end of the day it’s better to be safe than sorry.”