A foreigner who jumped into the Huangpu River to save a woman on Monday afternoon was identified yesterday as an American jogger.
Edward Poels, 51, was out for a run along the Bund when he saw security officers rushing toward the railings about 3:10pm.
“I followed them to see what had happened, because something must be going on. I looked over the side and saw a woman drifting on the river,” Poels told Shanghai Daily.
“She was not struggling much and was barely able to stay above the water,” he recalled.
Poels told the security officer he could swim and would try to save the woman.
Removing his shoes and socks, Poels jumped into the river and swam to the woman who was about 30 to 40 meters from the sightseeing terrace.
Reaching her, he brought her back to the bank and to a rope ladder lowered by guards.
Poels praised a Chinese bystander who helped him.
“I was very touched that a Chinese gentleman also jumped into the river to help. He was not a strong swimmer but he helped me get the woman to the ladder,” he said.
After climbing up to the terrace, Poels laid the woman down and administered first aid. The woman, in her 20s, was taken to hospital.
Poels said he didn’t know how or why the woman ended up in the river. “I didn’t see her go in and she wasn’t speaking after she was saved,” he said.
The American said he knew it was dangerous to jump into the river but he didn’t give it a second thought since the woman needed help.
“I’m trained in life-saving and first aid and I’m a swimmer. So I had the skills and ability to save her and I was at the right place and the right time,” he said.
Poels owns Hong Kong-based company and has lived in Shanghai since 2001. He is married to a local woman and has a daughter.
“I’m not a hero. I just did what I could do,” Poels insisted.
“Shanghai is my home. This could happen to my family, too, and I hope my wife and daughter would get help from others when they needed help.”
Poels scotched online rumors that his possessions had been stolen while he was in the water. Instead, someone gave him a dry shirt back on land, he said.
The woman, whose identity was not revealed, was picked up by her boyfriend, police said.
Police did not say why she ended up in the river.