Dramatic river rescue for fisherman

AN EXPERIENCED fisherman is today recovering after a wave knocked him overboard and clinging on for life in a boating accident.

AN EXPERIENCED fisherman is today recovering after a wave knocked him overboard and clinging on for life in a boating accident.

Dave Smith, of Boyton Road, Ipswich, was rescued by friends and fellow members of the Shotley Sailing Club when he ended up in rough water without a life jacket.

Mr Smith, 62, today thanked the rescuers, the emergency services and Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI), who helped get him to safety.

The accident happened on the River Stour as Mr Smith, 62, and his friend Doug Eldred, 71, were taking part in the sailing club's competition day.

Mr Smith, a cleaner at John Menzies on Ransomes Industrial Estate, said: “I've been fishing for 50 years and that's the first time I've fallen in.

“Without the people who helped me I wouldn't be here today.”

Most Read

The friends were in a 20ft boat on Sunday and had returned to the club as they were struggling to catch fish and the water was getting choppy.

Mr Smith said: “On the way back to the club we passed the RNLI boat and gave them a wave.

“We then stopped outside the club, had some sandwiches and a cup of tea and then it turned rough there so we decided to pull up the anchor.

“I turned back to Doug because it got stuck on something and he was in the cabin using the engine to lift it up.

“I told him to go forward and then a 3ft wave pulled the boat up and took me back down with it.

“I was holding the rope too tight and so it pulled me over the railings. My buckle on my life jacket got caught on the railings and it tore it off as I went over.

“I'm a confident swimmer but you can't swim in waders and they were filling up with water and pulling me down as I was clinging on to the railings. Eventually I managed to flip them off.”

Mr Eldred was unable to lift Mr Smith back up and called out for help to two other friends, known only as Richard and Tim.

The pair had been unable to get their engine going for four hours but it started just as they realised Mr Smith needed help.

They went over to him, lifted him out of the water and radioed for help as they began taking him to Harwich.

The RNLI took Mr Smith half way through the journey and an air ambulance was waiting to transfer him to Colchester General Hospital when they reached dry land.

He suffered hypothermia but was released later that day.

N Do you know the rescuers Richard and Tim? Call The Evening Star newsroom on 01473 324788.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter