RESCUE services today paid tribute to a modest hero from Holmfirth who saved a man's life.

Rob Stewart, 49, helped save a stricken driver who had plunged 160 feet down a Welsh mountain gorge and lay trapped upside down in his car in a freezing river.

Mr Stewart and two other motorists managed to reach the badly-injured man and kept his head out of water for 20 minutes. They then got him out of the car before rescue services arrived.

Today all three were told: "You saved that man's life."

Ceredigion County fire commander Roger Bennett, said: "If it had not been for the actions of Rob Stewart, Colin Bowcott and Daniel Trench, this man would certainly have died.

"His car had left the road through the Cambrian Mountains on an icy bend and plunged 50 metres down a gorge into the river.

"If Mr Stewart had not glimpsed the accident happening, no-one would have been aware of the tragedy.

"The driver would have lain there, trapped in his vehicle in the river and would either have drowned or died of hypothermia.

"The accident spot is desolate and bleak, and the weather conditions at the time were appalling".

The accident was on Tuesday afternoon on the A44 from Aberystwyth - a road running up into the mountains. There was driving sleet and rain at the time and ice patches had formed on the road.

Mr Stewart, who works for Bradford-based Jacuzzi UK as a manager, was on his way to meet customers.

He said: "It was terrible weather - unbelievably so for April.

"I'm just glad I saw the man's car. I caught a glimpse of it going off the road and immediately stopped.

"The car had plunged down the banking into the valley bottom. If I had not seen him for that split second, I don't think anyone would have found him.

"I managed to scramble down the banking and waded into the river. I forced open the doors to help him but he was trapped inside.

"The water was waist-deep and I managed to hold him out and tried to turn him round.

"Other drivers came to help and we managed to get a rope around the bottom of the car and turn it around to get it a little clear of the water. It was bitterly cold and the man had bad cuts all over his face and head."

The three rescuers eventually managed to help the driver to the bank and covered him with blankets.

Rescue services who had been alerted by mobile phone arrived and paramedics treated the injured man. A helicopter was brought in to fly the driver to hospital.