Willow's amazing escape from storm drain

A RELIEVED dog owner has praised fire crews who rescued her pet from a storm drain by drilling through a concrete promenade.Willow the Jack Russell was washed into a tiny hole underneath the seafront at Southcliff Promenade in Walton-on-the-Naze.

By Annie Davidson

A RELIEVED dog owner has praised fire crews who rescued her pet from a storm drain by drilling through a concrete promenade.

Willow the Jack Russell was washed into a tiny hole underneath the seafront at Southcliff Promenade in Walton-on-the-Naze.

For several hours, his distraught owner did not even know he was there and feared he had been swept out to sea.


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The three-year-old had jumped into the sea after a tennis ball and then disappeared under the water, watched by his owner, Helena Maraldo.

Mrs Maraldo plunged into the water after Willow but was unable to find him despite searching the waves for 20 minutes at 2pm on Saturday.

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Two friends she was with eventually coaxed Mrs Maraldo her out of the water and took her back to her mother's home in Colchester.

She said: “I felt like death warmed up. My mother tried to console me but she couldn't. I screamed and shouted all afternoon.”

It was hours after Willow's disappearance that Mrs Maraldo's friends returned to the beach to try and find his body and heard him barking.

Eventually they realised he was beneath their feet, trapped under the concrete promenade. Emergency services were alerted and fire crews spent two hours drilling through the promenade to reach the frightened animal.

Mrs Maraldo, 36 said Willow had been washed into a storm drain which was in a slipway leading down on to the beach from the promenade.

As the sea water rushed into the drain, Willow had gone further and further in before becoming trapped in a hole deep beneath the promenade.

He was finally released at about 6.30pm but Mrs Maraldo's ordeal was not over as Willow bit one of his rescuers and ran off.

Only after two hours of searching was he found nearby and coaxed into an RSPCA van by an inspector.

Mrs Maraldo said: “The fire brigade were really fantastic. If it were not for them he would not be here. They were all really amazing.”

She explained that Willow and her other Jack Russell, Peaches, were substitute children to her as she and her husband, Fabio, were unable to have any.

She said Willow was particularly special as he had alerted the couple to a fire at their home in Henniker Gate, Chelmer Village, Chelmsford, when their smoke alarm did not go off.

She added: “I will take Willow to the beach again but he is not going into the water again - no way!”

annie.davidson@eadt.co.uk

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