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September 13, 2005
Jet skier rescued from mud by Burnham-On-Sea hovercraft crew

Two of the three jet skiers struggle with a trailer in the thick mud

Two jet skiers are shown struggling to retrieve their jet ski trailer at Berrow this week, just minutes after a third man had been rescued by Burnham-On-Sea's hovercraft crew when he got into difficulties in the thick mud.

The hovercraft crew were trialling a second smaller hovercraft on Berrow Beach on Saturday September 10 when the incident unfolded three quarters of a mile from the shoreline and just a few hundred metres from where five year-old Lelaina Hall tragically lost her life in 2002.

The Beach Warden raised the alarm after spotting three men struggling to pull their jet ski across the mud after their machine had run aground on the falling tide. They were trying to load the machine onto a trailer when one of the three began to sink in the mud. [See video]

Within a matter of seconds, the hovercraft crew flew to the scene and managed to pull David Rowe out of the mud and back to the safety of the shore.

David, who is believed to be in his early 30s and from Bristol, was taken onboard the trial hovercraft and then released without injury.

The jet ski had sunk into the mud on a trailerHovercraft pilot Pete Emery said: "Every time he tried to move forward, he sank deeper into the mud.

"He was starting to tire quickly and was already stuck to the tops of his thighs. We all know what can happen here, and we felt it would be much safer to get him back to the safety of the beach."

The hovercraft crew then stood closely by as the other two men managed to pull their trailer and jet ski to the shore using tow rope.

Mark Newman, press officer for BARB, the group that runs the hovercraft, said: "It's fortunate we were already on the scene carrying out training and were able to quickly switch our attention from the exercise to this real rescue."

"Once again, a hovercraft was the only emergency vehicle able to reach the casualty given that the tide was out and thick mud was all around."

The second hovercraft is being tested to act as a back-up to The Spirit Of Lelaina hovercraft; enable two rescues to be performed along the coastline at the same time; and allow the team to perform in-shore rescues along rivers and lakes across the region.

BARB has not yet decided which hovercraft is best suited for the new service, but this weekend tried out one such machine from Bill Baker, the Banbury-based maker of the existing Burnham hovercraft.

A hovercraft designer for over 35 years, he demonstrated the smaller BBV3 craft, which was involved in Saturday's incident.

The latest rescue takes the overall tally of people rescued and helped along the Somerset coastline during the hovercraft group's first 18 months to 80.

Burnham's hovercraft is named after five year-old Lelaina Hall, who tragically lost her life in the mud at Berrow in 2002. Readers of the Western Daily Press donated £115,000 to buy the fully-equipped hovercraft.

The trial hovercraft speeding heading in the direction of the stranded jet ski


Video of the jet skiers struggling in the mud at Brean

Official Burnham Hovercraft Web site home page



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