Update: Warning to bathers following death of man after incident at Felixstowe Ferry

The RAF Rescue Helicopter in flying action

The RAF Rescue Helicopter in flying action - Credit: citizenside.com

BATHERS were today warned about the dangers of swimming in the mouth of a river after a man who was winched from the water at Felixstowe Ferry died last night.

A 59-year-old man entered the water near the sailing club and despite being pulled to safety by an RAF rescue helicopter and taken to Ipswich Hospital, he was pronounced dead shortly after.

Witnesses today described seeing a frantic search for the man with police and the helicopter descending on the scene within minutes of the alarm being raised.

Stephen Read, deputy harbourmaster, said he had been in contact with the coastguard about the incident, and he sent out a warning to people considering swimming in the area.

He said: “It is fairly fast flowing and with the temperatures this year, it doesn’t take long to go into hypothermia and go into shock.”

Police received calls at about 6pm regarding the incident and the Felixstowe coastguard team was called into action.

The Wattisham RAF 22 Squadron B Flight Sea King search and rescue helicopter was on a training exercise nearby and was asked to assist coastguards who had been sent to help the man, who was close to sea defences near the mouth of the River Deben.

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Coastguards on the shore used torches to help direct the helicopter crew.

Flight Lieutenant Doug Larkam, of B Flight, said the man was located in the water by crew using special infrared equipment. He said: “(Winching casualties directly from the water) is something we train for but it is relatively unusual – we get them from time to time.

“We are not sure how he got in the water. He was literally a few metres from the shoreline and just off the sea defences. It was probably a few metres deep at that point.

“It’s not a beach there – it’s a breakwater and it gets quite deep quite quickly.

“It was dark and the sea was calm and it was a relatively clear night

“From the location it was only five minutes to the hospital and we did our normal drills of giving him first aid en route and he was met at the hospital landing site by the medical team.”

A Thames Coastguard spokesman said it was understood that the initial call had been received from the man’s wife and further calls had reported a “commotion” on the shore.

He said: “The helicopter was up on exercise and had a very quick response time to being on site. The Harwich inshore lifeboat did launch but was stood down once the helicopter was called in.”

A Suffolk Constabulary spokesman confirmed that the man had died, that the death was not being treated as suspicious and that investigations were under way.