Taekwondo-kicking pensioner saves trapped woman

PUBLISHED: 15:41 25 November 2013 | UPDATED: 15:41 25 November 2013

A Budleigh pensioner and former martial arts student has used his high-kicking skills to rescue a trapped damsel in distress from a seafront toilet.

Peter Cole, 67, was walking his dogs along the seafront last Friday evening when he spotted a young man kicking a door of the Salting Hill facility.

Thinking the man was a vandal, Peter, who lives in Bramble Close, approached him, only to discover that he was actually trying to rescue a female companion who was locked inside.

Fortunately for her, Peter, who used to practice Taekwondo, sprang into action. He said: “I saw the chap by the toilets kicking the door. When I got to him he said ‘I’m not just kicking it – there’s someone in there who can’t get out, and the door is locked’.

“I put the dogs’ lead down, and ‘opened’ it. At first I did a side kick, and it didn’t work, so I used a front kick and that kicked it straight in.

“The girl inside was very frightened as she couldn’t get out, and her friend couldn’t get in, and she had been in there long enough to be panicking. I can’t help thinking what would have happened to her if no-one else had been around. We can’t get mobile phone reception down there.”

Peter initially thought the girl had been trapped by timed locks on the toilet, however East Devon District Council (EDDC), which operates the facility, says it was actually the fault of vandals damaging the door handle, meaning it couldn’t be opened from the inside.

An EDDC spokesman said: “The doors are designed so that if anyone is inside the cubicle when they lock, the person can simply open the door from inside - in the same way as they always do.

“The problem was that the handle inside had been vandalised so that when the woman went to let herself out, it didn’t work.

“Three of the cubicles in this block had been vandalised in this way and our maintenance team fixed them all on Monday.

“We are investigating measures to make the inner handles less vulnerable to vandals.”

The spokesman added that EDDC’s toilets at the other end of the seafront, at Steamer Steps, had also fallen victim to vandals.

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