Tower RNLI save life of man who falls 40 feet into the Thames

Lifeboats News Release

A man who fell forty feet into the river Thames is lucky to be alive today thanks to the rapid response of the RNLI’s Tower lifeboat crew.

The crew were launched at 8.22pm last night (Monday 8 January) following reports of a man who had been seen climbing up scaffolding at the Old Thameside Inn at Pickfords Wharf. The lifeboat was on the scene in just two minutes.

When the crew arrived the man, believed to be in his late 20s, was forty feet above the water and then began to clamber onto a narrow four inch ledge, three floors up a neighbouring building.

An attempt by a police boat to get closer to the wharf had not been possible due to the state of the tide, which was only a metre deep, but the RNLI crew were able to manoeuvre the lifeboat into position below the building.

Due to the dark, it was initially very difficult to locate the man, but he was picked out by searchlights from the lifeboat, just as the owner of a flat in the building came onto his balcony to find the man clinging to the wall.

As the resident started to reach out with his hand to lead him to safety, the man suddenly lost his footing, falling backwards and crashing into the inky black water just feet from the lifeboat.

‘As he hit the water he disappeared briefly from view and then surfaced,’ said RNLI Tower Helm, Stuart Morrison. ‘We feared the worse as he had fallen into less than a metre of water and we thought he could have suffered major injuries, but we had no choice but to pull him straight into the lifeboat because the strong ebb tide was threatening to drag him underneath the pub’.

‘It had all the possibilities of being a pretty horrible loss and if he had been pulled underneath the pub there are all sorts of dangers and obstructions. He would have been sucked under and got trapped, so we only had seconds to pull him out of the water,’ he added. ‘There is no doubt this is a life saved – if we hadn’t have been there he would have drowned’. *

Incredibly after carrying out a full body survey, the crew could only find minor facial injuries and the lifeboat made its way at speed back to Tower Lifeboat Station by Waterloo Bridge, where he was handed over to paramedics, who also found no further injuries. The man was then taken away by ambulance and the RNLI crew stood down.

* Life saved is a specific RNLI term which is decided after careful analysis of a range of criteria. A rescue is categorised as a life saved where, if it weren’t for the intervention of the RNLI, a person would most likely have died.

Video: RNLI

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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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