Bridge fall rescuers tell of drama

IT'S a miracle.Rescuers of a man who lived after plunging from the Orwell Bridge have today spoken of their amazement at his survival with just minor injuries.

IT'S a miracle.

Rescuers of a man who lived after plunging from the Orwell Bridge have today spoken of their amazement at his survival with just minor injuries.

Today the full drama of the rescue can be revealed after police and lifeboat crews dragged the man alive from the cold water early yesterday.

Lifeboat crews said that the chances of surviving a fall like this are slim to no chance and they were fully prepared to find a body when they were called to the scene.

And rescuer, Pc David Horne from Suffolk Police revealed how the man seemed to be trying to swim for his life when they spotted him in the water just after midnight.

Pc Horne, one of the first officers on the bridge said: “We saw something floating in the water.

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“We saw what seemed to be arms moving about, like someone was trying to swim.”

And he added that the man could owe his life to the member of the public who reported the incident.

He said: “Had we not got there, there is a good chance it could have turned out a lot worse, it could have been quite a different story.”

The police helicopter, the Air Sea Rescue helicopter from Wattisham, Harwich in-shore lifeboat and Holbrook lifeboat were called to assist in the rescue operation after a member of the public called to say they had spotted a man peering over the side of the bridge just after midnight.

Scott Wiltshire, deputy second coxon at Harwich, said: “Upon arrival we saw that the police helicopter was up and had already seen something on the water's edge.

“They had the spotlight on it and wanted us to check what it was. As we closed in on it we very quickly realised it was a person waving their arm.

“We pulled him aboard and did a quick assessment. He had very little clothing on and we could see he was suffering from hypothermia. He was shaking and it was clear he was struggling to breath.”

Mr Wiltshire added: “We are usually prepared to find a body in those circumstances. We were quite surprised to find someone waving. In our experience there is slim to no chance of surviving such a fall.”

Pc Horne said he had spoken to the man in hospital yesterday evening and he “seemed fine.”

He added: “He was talking, that does not normally happen when you jump off a bridge.

“Normally you would suffer very serious injuries, at least broken bones, but as far as I can see from this chap there are no obvious injuries. Everyone, including the medical staff could not believe it.”

The incident comes just over a month since 20-year-old Laura Garner of North Hill Gardens, Ipswich, died after plunging from the bridge.

Do you know the man who fell from the bridge? Or are you the person and want to thank the emergency ser-vices for their help? Call the Star newsdesk on 01473 324788 or e-mail starnews@eveningstar.co.uk.

Emergency services were called at 12.10am after a member of the public spotted somebody on the middle of the bridge, peering over the side.

When police officers attended about ten minutes later they located the man's car abandoned but could find no trace of him on the bridge or over the edge of the eastbound carriageway.

Pc David Horne said after noticing the tide was going out he and his colleague ran across the bridge to look over the other edge, discovering something in the water.

Thermal imaging equipment was used to locate the man, who was then picked up by the coastguard and said to be “cold and conscious,” he was then winched up to the helicopter.

The helicopter then landed at a site near Copleston High School and he was taken by ambulance to Ipswich Hospital.

It was initially thought he had a rib injury but it was later discovered he just had a “very slight” injury to his neck.