A hero policeman swept to his death in the Cumbrian floods was honoured yesterday with a posthumous Queen’s Commendation for Bravery.
Pc Bill Barker plunged into the swollen waters of the River Derwent in the early hours of November 20, 2009, after venturing on to Northside Bridge in Workington to check for casualties below.
The father of four had been sent to the spot to assess the situation after police received reports that the bridge had begun to collapse.
Arriving at the area in darkness, the 44-year-old heard a vehicle may have fallen into the water so he and a colleague stepped on to the bridge, realising once they were there that its central section had caved in.
Seeing no casualties, they started to leave – but Pc Barker fatally looked over the parapet to check once more that no vehicle or its occupants were visible. At that moment, that part of the bridge broke away and he was carried off by the water.
The citation for his commendation read: “While recognising the obvious risks to himself, Pc Barker took steps to check for casualties in need of assistance, and paid the ultimate price for his selfless actions.”