The heroics of a former Preston police officer have seen him awarded New Zealand’s highest police bravery award.
Highways Patrol Officer Darren Critchley was awarded the New Zealand Police Association’s Bravery Award last week after being commended for his selfless behaviour last December.
Darren, a former Lancashire Police constable for five years in Preston and Hutton, was finishing his shift when he heard an alert on the radio about tourists in trouble after swimming in rough seas off of the Ninety Mile Beach coast.
51-year-old Darren, who grew up in Garstang, said: “I thought this is going to be a big ask but decided I have to try to save these two in the water.”
Darren brought one, a male, back to shore and immediately re-entered the perilous water to try and find the other stranded tourist, named as Carolin Jentsch.
But when Darren got to Carolin it was too late, and she had tragically drowned.
Nonetheless, Darren her on to his surfboard and gave her mouth to mouth for a few breaths before he swimming back to shore with her body, where he had to brake the awful news.
The dad-of-three said: “As police we take an oath and affirmation to protect life.”
Speaking of Darren and fellow award recipients, NZ Police Association President Chris Cahill said: “Even from such brief descriptions of harrowing experiences, I believe it is very clear that not only did they place themselves in serious danger once, in each case they went back in to find the second person.”
Darren received the Liverpool Shipwreck and Humane Society Award during his time in England when he endangered his own life trying to save 16-year-old David Mulholland from the River Ribble in 1991.
Darren was unable to save David but recovered his body through his valiant efforts.
Darren, whose wife Rowena is a police officer in New Zealand, said: “I just felt a sense of responsibility to go in regardless of the danger to myself to try and save the young lad.”
Colin Critchley, Darren's brother who worked for Lancashire Constabulary at the same time, said: "To say I am the luckiest man alive to be able to call myself his brother is a complete understatement.
"My Brother is a brave soul who I will always look up to."
Regarding the new award, Darren said: “Standing in front of 50 Police Association members in the room, mostly police officers of varying ranks from New Zealand and Australia, was a real honour.”