Trevor Bankhead made the incredible journey in a bid to bring closure for the family of Euan Coulthard who went missing on January 14.
A diver travelled hundreds of miles to help in the search for a missing Durham University student to ‘bring closure’ for the boy’s mother.
Trevor Bankhead, 45, works as a commercial diver in Scotland and travelled more than 170 miles to Durham to help search for missing student Euan Coulthard after speaking to his brother Gary who had been involved in the search.
Euan was last seen after a night out with friends in Durham on January 14, CCTV showed him crossing Framwellgate Bridge before walking down steps towards the River Wear minutes later his phone powered off and police said they believed his body was recovered on Friday.
With experience of more than 500 dives in the River Wear, Mr Bankhead packed up his gear and headed back to his home city with one aim in mind, to find Euan and to bring closure for the Coulthard family.
He said: “I was doing it for his mother, I thought with my knowledge I could put his mother’s mind at rest.
“I’m a commercial diver and I heard about Euan, my brother is a fireman and had been involved in the search.
“I’ve done 500 to 600 dives in the river – four years ago I found the Bishop’s treasure and I thought I could use my local knowledge.”
An army veteran of 15 years Mr Bankhead served with the 7th Parachute Regiment Royal Horse Artillery where he trained as a diver.
Mr Bankhead began his search shortly after 9am on Friday and within minutes discovered the body which police later said is believed to be that of the 19-year-old year law student.
He added: “I was in the water for two minutes and I found him.
“I knew if he was there that I would be able to find him because of my knowledge of the river.
“I do question my sanity because those images will stay with me for the rest of my life.
“I prepared myself, my mission was to go and find him.
“I hope it can bring his mother some closure.”
Hundreds of students joined the search handing out flyers in a desperate bid to find the St Mary’s College student.
Superintendent Andy Huddleston, of Durham police, admitted immediately wanting to deploy police divers but said they were unable to do so due to bad weather, he said Durham police took advice from the Environment Agency and fire service.
Supt Huddleston said: “The area we were looking in was not a precise location in terms of where he was last seen.
“Using police divers was a consideration from the very beginning but was impossible to employ prior to this point.
“Trying to find somebody is far from an exact science, and the area we were searching was from Durham to Sunderland.
“The discovery was made by a member of the public who works in the diving industry.
“He took it upon himself to look under the bridge, it’s an area of the river he knows very well, and sadly he did find a body we believe to be Euan.”
Formal identification of the body is expected to take place on Monday.