Lifeboats News Release

A hang glider pilot who plummeted more than 600 feet into the Bristol Channel has been rescued in a joint operation by volunteer lifeboat crews from Minehead and local coastguards.

The man was seen to spiral down and crash into the sea after taking off from the top of North Hill, Minehead, this afternoon.

The accident was witnessed by two people from a farm about a mile west of the lifeboat station. They raised the alarm then ran down to drag the man out of the water, helped by 75-year-old Minehead fishing boat skipper Marcus James, who swam ashore to assist.

Minehead RNLI’s Atlantic 85 and D class lifeboats were launched within minutes. Crews found the man, in his forties and thought to be Eastern European, semi-conscious and with head, chest and shoulder injuries.

He was cut out of his harness and given first aid on scene before being flown by air ambulance to hospital in Exeter.

Minehead RNLI operations manager Dr John Higgie said the man had been very fortunate that someone had seen the accident.

“The cliffs run westward from the farm for two or three miles and you only get the occasional walker up there,” he said.

“Had he come down half a mile or more to the west the chances are no-one would have seen him and we should have been looking at a very different outcome.”


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 238 lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland and 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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Contacting the RNLI - public enquiries

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