RNLI London lifeboat crew rescue freezing man from River Thames at Deptford

Lifeboats News Release

A holidaymaker who fell into the icy waters of the River Thames in London was rescued by Tower RNLI lifeboat crew on Thursday (9 March).

The 53-year-old man was taking photographs by the river at Deptford Creek, near Greenwich, shortly after 10pm when he leaned against railings and fell into the water.

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution’s Tower lifeboat, based near Waterloo Bridge, were requested to launch by the UK Coastguard in London at 10.24pm. Launching within 60 seconds, the crew made their way to Deptford Creek to find the man in the water, very cold and in a state of shock.

Craig Burn, helm of Tower RNLI lifeboat, said: ‘When we got closer we had to put the lifeboat’s aerials and radar mast down because the tide was high, meaning there was very little clearance beneath Deptford Creek footbridge. As we approached we found the man clinging to a ledge in the water, wearing a lifejacket that had been thrown to him by police on the river bank.

‘He was very cold and in a state of shock following the fall. Because the water temperature was only 7 degrees we were concerned about the possibility of hypothermia, as he had been in the water for around ten minutes when we arrived.’

The lifeboat crew pulled the man aboard and immediately checked him over and gave him blankets to warm him up.

Craig continued: ‘He told us he was from Turkey but was visiting family in the UK. He had been trying to take a photo when he slipped and fell over the railings, plummeting into the dark water in the creek.

‘A number of family and friends were on scene and were very distressed at not being able to assist him. When we arrived they were all extremely grateful to us for helping him.’

The lifeboat crew took the man to Greenwich Pier where they were met by staff from London Ambulance Service and he was reunited with his family.

Craig added: ‘This is exactly the kind of thing the charity’s lifeboat crews train for. I was extremely proud of my fellow crew members Dave Norman, Geoff Taylor and Nick Sammons, for their professionalism and the compassion shown to this very frightened man. We were pleased to be able to help and prevent what could have been a much worse outcome.’

In addition to Tower RNLI, the Metropolitan Police and London Ambulance Service were also in attendance

The RNLI is a charity that relies almost entirely on voluntary contributions to save lives on the River Thames in London and around the coast of the UK and Ireland. To find out more about Tower RNLI, follow their Twitter feed @TowerRNLI or visit www.rnli.org.uk

RNLI media contacts

  • Tim Ash, RNLI Public Relations Manager (London/East/South East) on 0207 6207426, 07785 296252 tim_ash@rnli.org.uk
  • For enquiries outside normal business hours, contact the RNLI duty press officer on 01202 336789
Tower RNLI crew assist the man in the the lifeboat


Tower RNLI crew assist the man in the the lifeboat
The casualty is rescued from the River Thames


The casualty is rescued from the River Thames
Tower RNLI crew and London Ambulance Service staff bring the man to Greenwich Pier to be reunited with his family


Tower RNLI crew and London Ambulance Service staff bring the man to Greenwich Pier to be reunited with his family

Key facts about the RNLI

The RNLI charity saves lives at sea. Its volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service around the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland coasts. The RNLI operates over 238 lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland and, in a normal year, more than 240 lifeguard units on beaches around the UK and Channel Islands. The RNLI is independent of Coastguard and government and depends on voluntary donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824, its lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved over 142,700 lives.

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