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Sailor in miracle escape

PUBLISHED: 09:14 22 December 2001 | UPDATED: 11:04 03 March 2010

A SAILOR is recovering in hospital today after a nightmare three hours struggling to survive in icy waters.

It was a miraculous escape from the jaws of death after the 47-year-old man from Felixstowe plunged into the freezing waters of the River Deben near Sutton.

A SAILOR is recovering in hospital today after a nightmare three hours struggling to survive in icy waters.

It was a miraculous escape from the jaws of death after the 47-year-old man from Felixstowe plunged into the freezing waters of the River Deben near Sutton.

Believed to be sailing alone, it is thought that the plucky sailor may have leaned too far over the side of his yacht and fallen overboard.

He fell from his 22ft Westerly yacht at around 3.15pm yesterday but the alarm was not raised until three hours later when he had managed to drag himself ashore near to Methers Gate Hall.

The call was made from a land line at around 6.30pm.

It would have taken a Herculean effort to swim ashore, battling against the freezing waters in pitch darkness, not knowing where he was going to end up.

Water temperatures would only have been around 6C and coastguards said that the sailor had a very lucky escape.

A spokeswoman said: "He was very lucky as many people would not survive three hours in similar conditions."

Ambulance crews were called at around 6.30pm and found the man still conscious but suffering from hypothermia and having swallowed lots of water during the swim.

Paramedics warmed the man up and his heart condition was closely monitored as such conditions can cause cardiac arrest.

He was taken to Ipswich hospital where his condition was last night described as stable.

Thames Coastguard were not involved in the rescue and were only informed by ambulance after the event to advise them that they may be alerted to the stranded yacht, which is believed to have run aground further upstream.

A spokeswoman said that the sailor's survival was unique as he was able to get himself to shore.

She said: "People often fall overboard but I have never heard of one like this because we were not alerted until afterwards because he was the only person on board."

A warning was also issued to other solo sailors to be especially careful and alert someone of their plans.


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