A MUSSELBURGH man has been hailed a hero after he jumped into the freezing River Esk on Sunday to save a drowning man.

Without a thought for himself, 48-year-old Jason Reilly jumped into the river, phone in pocket, and held the man’s head above the icy water while he waited for emergency services to arrive.

Jason, of Hercus Loan, was later given a free phone by Musselburgh Tesco after his heroic act left him without one.

The labourer was watching football on TV at the Auld Brig Tavern at about 5.20pm on Sunday when a dog walker alerted him that someone was floating head down in the river across the road.

He said the man, who has not been identified, was choking and spluttering when two firefighters arrived more than 10 minutes later and helped Jason lift him out of the Esk.

When emergency services arrived, Jason was wrapped in a foil blanket and the unidentified man was taken to hospital to be treated.

His current condition is unknown.

Jason told the Courier: “I was just standing having a cigarette outside the Auld Brig when a guy who was walking his dog started shouting that there was someone in the water.

“I ran down and right enough I saw someone floating.

“It was a man, I wouldn’t like to guess his age but I’d say he was between 50 and 60.

“He wasn’t even struggling, he was just floating.

“I don’t know how long he was in there but I think he must have come from further up the river.

“I just got in and tried to support him but he was like a dead weight. I couldn’t get him out on my own.

“He was choking and spluttering, I had to hold his head above the water.

“I ended up under the water myself, right up to my neck. My legs were like jelly.”

A picture of Jason wrapped in a foil blanket and holding his trainers was shared online by a bystander and Jason was immediately hailed a hero by other Musselburgh residents.

One person wrote: “Go you, Jason Reilly – what a hero.”

Another said: “That just proves there are some decent people around, good to know. Well done Jason.”

Jason’s phone broke due to water damage and Musselburgh Tesco gave him a new one free of charge after his heroic act.

Without a phone, he had no idea that he had been hailed a hero by social media users until his friends at work told him on Monday.

He said: “Everyone in the pub was helping, people were getting blankets and stuff before I was even out of the water.

“I don’t even know what to say about what people have been saying about me. I appreciate it.

“I just hope the guy’s OK, that would make it all worth it.”

Jason’s friend and colleague, also called Jason, posted a picture of him at work on Monday morning to social media.

Jason Cameron said: “He couldn’t phone in sick to work because he didn’t have a phone so he came in on Monday morning.

“He hadn’t heard about any of the stuff on Facebook so I showed him and posted a picture of us at work and everybody just started going daft.

“He was overwhelmed with the responses from people, he just said he did what he thought anyone would do.”

A spokesman for Police Scotland said: “Emergency services were contacted around 5.20pm on Sunday regarding a man in the water under the Roman Bridge.

“He was rescued by Scottish Fire and Rescue personnel and taken by ambulance to Edinburgh Royal Infirmary.”

A spokeswoman for Tesco said: “In this instance, our phone shop team heard about what happened and wanted to offer their support by replacing Jason’s phone.

“We send our well wishes to all those involved in the incident.”