Man plucked to safety in rescue

A MAN was winched to safety from icy waters during a dramatic river rescue off the banks of the Deben.

A helicopter search and rescue crew from Wattisham Airfield was carrying out a training exercise just minutes from the scene when an emergency call came in from Waldringfield, near Woodbridge, yesterday afternoon.

The middle-aged man was taken to hospital suffering the effects of the cold after falling into the water while stepping between a dinghy and a moored boat.

The Harwich inshore lifeboat and a crew from Felixstowe were also launched to help the rescue, which happened just before 1pm near the riverside village’s boatyard.

According to witnesses, the man was among a party of three men out on the river, and was seen clinging to the side of a dinghy, struggling to haul himself aboard. Wattisham’s airborne team took only four minutes to reach the man, who was still conscious but whose body temperature had fallen after being exposed to the freezing water. He was flown to Ipswich Hospital.

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Waldringfield Sailing Club bosun John Smith was first alerted to the drama by the sound of the rescue helicopter.

He said: “They lowered someone on a winch and fished him out of the water.

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“He must have fallen in and it can be difficult getting back out, especially with wet clothing.

“At this time of year it doesn’t do you very much good to be in the water for more than a couple of minutes.

“Your core temperature can drop and it really does require medical expertise to get it back up.

“The coastguard’s advice is to get them out as soon as possible.”

Another pair of eyewitnesses agreed that the man’s condition could have deteriorated quickly had it not been for the close proximity and speedy response of the rescuers, adding: “It was very fortunate for him that the helicopter was nearby.

“We heard it overhead and went to see the winch being lowered into the water.

“He was taken up into the helicopter and we assume off to hospital.”

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