Pair save distressed woman

JOELLE DALLY
Last updated 05:00 20/06/2014
Matthew McKeown,
Kirk Hargreaves/Fairfax NZ
'JUST A GOOD DEED': Matthew McKeown was heading home on his motorbike when he noticed a teenager sitting on the wrong side of the railing on an overbridge.
Bill Parlane
Kirk Hargreaves/Fairfax NZ
TEAM EFFORT: ''I wasn't going to let her go,'' Bill Parlane said.

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Matthew McKeown and Bill Parlane live only a few houses apart but had never met until joining forces to save a young woman's life.

McKeown, 38, was heading home on his motorbike when he noticed a teenager sitting on the wrong side of the railing on a Christchurch Northern Motorway overbridge.

He stopped and found the 18-year-old in a distressed state, with heavy traffic below. Fearing the worst, he spoke to her for five to eight minutes in a bid to coax her down. McKeown flagged down a passing driver, who phoned 111, before 74-year-old Bill Parlane walked past.

''I said, 'mate, can you help?' There was no hesitation,'' McKeown said.

Parlane said the pair ''both just sort of acted together''.

''I went one side, he went the other. I got a good grip of her jacket. She was half-pie ready to go. When we grabbed her she was definitely up, off [the railing],'' Parlane said.

They lifted the woman onto the footpath and held her until police arrived.

''I wasn't going to let her go,'' Parlane said.

The men were surprised to learn later that they lived across from each other in nearby Kaiapoi.

''I've lived on this street for nine years and never met the guy,'' McKeown said.

Police credited the men's ''courageous'' actions, about 6pm on June 7, with saving the young woman - and potentially a motorist.

''They came to the rescue of this young girl in distress. It could otherwise have resulted in a death. We appreciate their intervention,'' Sergeant Rob Irvine said.

The young woman had received help from mental health services, he said.

Parlane said anyone would have done the same thing.

''You don't really think about it, you just do it.''

McKeown said it was ''just a good deed''.

''She is alright, that's all that matters to me,'' he said. 

Where to phone for help:

■ Suicide Prevention Helpline: 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO)

■ Lifeline: 0800 543 354Youthline: 0800 376 633 or free text 234

■ Samaritans: 0800 726 666.

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