Pensioner dramatically rescued from Barnard Castle river after falling while doing DIY (From The Northern Echo)
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Pensioner dramatically rescued from Barnard Castle river after falling while doing DIY
A PENSIONER spent an hour clinging to a wooden arch in a fast-flowing river after his ladder slipped and he fell 20ft into the water while painting a friend’s conservatory.
The 78-year-old man was rescued from the River Tees in Barnard Castle, County Durham, on Saturday afternoon.
More than 30 people were involved in the dramatic rescue, including crews from County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service, the police, paramedics, Great North Air Ambulance and the Teesdale and Weardale Search and Mountain Rescue Team.
The man, who is understood to have suffered broken ribs in the fall, was painting the conservatory at Demesnes Mill for owner Joan Young, with his ladder perched on a small ledge above the river.
Mrs Young, who has lived at the mill for 30 years with her husband Bob, said: “He has repainted the whole house and the conservatory was the last part.
“He was on the ladder painting, but the ladder slipped and he went over the edge.
“It was really scary, he is a lovely man and has been such a huge help to me, I feel so guilty about it but accidents do happen.”
The man fell through undergrowth and hit rocks before landing in the old mill race at about 4.45pm, a side section of the fast-flowing River Tees which used to draw water to turn the former corn mill’s wheel.
He clung to an old wooden archway in the waste deep water as the emergency services were called.
Specially trained firefighters from Bishop Auckland Swift Water Rescue unit entered the river about 100m upstream and waded and swam to the man.
They then secured him to a long board, which is normally used to remove people from car crashes who may have suffered spinal injuries. The board was then hoisted vertically by the mountain rescue team who had erected a system of pullies and ropes.
Dane Rollo, County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service station manager, said hypothermia looked as it if was setting in.
He said the water was cold, adding: “It was deep and fast-flowing part so it would have been particularly cold in that area.
“The man had 50 per cent of his body submerged in the water so there was a real concern, especially when his age was taken into account.”
It took rescuers about 45 minutes to free the man and send him to James Cook Memorial Hospital in Teesside in the air ambulance.
Mrs Young said: “I understand he has broken six ribs and will be in hospital for a few days, I am so shocked by the whole thing.”
Mr Rollo said: “It was a combination of both ourselves and the mountain rescue team both doing what we are good at, a good example of multi-agency working.
“He was unlucky to fall but lucky that the consequences weren’t much worse.”
Fire crews from Barnard Castle, Middleton-in-Teesdale responded as did the water unit from Bishop Auckland.
Richard Warne technical lead for mountain rescue said: "All the services worked very well together to carry out a difficult but successful rescue within just over an hour of the call."
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