TWO cyclists are being hailed as heroes after they helped rescue a man who had fallen into a canal.

Dale McCartney and Gary Salmon were riding along the canal near Accrington Sea Cadets HQ in Clayton-le-Moors on Wednesday when they saw Phillip Greenwood, who was walking his dog, fall head first into the murky water.

Mr McCartney, 46, said: “It was about 10am and it was still quite misty. We saw a man on the opposite side under the bridge with his dog.

“He stepped towards the edge and then literally just went head first into the water. It happened so quick that I had to do a double take to make sure I’d seen it right.

“I thought he might’ve banged his head as the water isn’t very deep, so we raced under the bridge, over the top and then back down to get to the other side.

“By the time we got round he had re-surfaced and we saw he was panicking and struggling so we shouted to him to stay where he was as we were coming to get him.”

The two friends then managed to pull Mr Greenwood out of the water and onto the canal bank.

Mr Greenwood, 55, of Clayton-le-Moors, said: “I was a bit embarrassed really but I’m so grateful they were there to help.

“There was a huge puddle on the path and I tried to avoid it but slipped. My legs went from right under me and I landed on my coccyx and then bounced into the water.

“It was like it happened in slow motion but at the same time it happened so quickly too. I went right under and tried to get myself back to the surface but my clothes were pulling me down. I eventually managed to get to the bank but then couldn’t pull myself up.

“I’m so grateful to the lads, there’s no way I could’ve got out myself. I don’t know what I would’ve done had they not turned up.”

Mr McCartney, of Accrington, said the incident had left the pals a little shaken up but they were happy they were there to help.

He said: “If we’d set off five minutes later then we might not have seen him. That water is freezing, and we didn’t see anyone else along the canal for ages.

"When we got him out he was clearly in shock and he just thanked us and said he was going home to change his clothes.”

Mr Salmon, 50, of Oswaldtwistle, added: “We did what anyone else would’ve done, or should’ve done in that situation.”

Following the incident, Mr Greenwood’s wife, Donna put a plea out on Facebook to find the men who had helped her husband, and after being seen by more than 300 people, the pair were tracked down and thanked for their swift actions.

Mr McCartney said: “Phillip’s wife got in touch and offered to buy us both a pint but we said as long as he was alright, that was good enough for us.”