Published: November 30, 2012
Lifejacket saves life of man, 72, thrown into sea when dinghy upturns

A lucky pensioner has recounted how a lifejacket has saved his life when his dinghy capsized in the chilly waters of the Bristol Channel near Brean on Friday morning (November 30th).

Experienced water user Roger Ferrier, 72, was plunged into the water while rowing in his dinghy in the River Axe at Uphill.

He made a grab for a rope and overbalanced, resulting in the dinghy capsizing and throwing him into the water.

The fast-flowing water swept him downstream, but he was kept afloat by his lifejacket and managed to pull himself out and scramble to the shore.

A short-time later, the crew of a passing helicopter spotted his upturned dinghy a mile or two out from Brean and Coastguards were alerted.

Burnham-On-Sea's RNLI lifeboat crew was asked to recover the dinghy, which they found around 12 miles downstream from the original incident. It was taken back to Burnham lifeboat station for Mr Ferrier to collect, as pictured here.

The pensioner, from Bleadon, told "I was rowing out to my mooring and the water flow was very swift. I grabbed for the mooring line and the dinghy capsized, throwing me into the water."

"My lifejacket auto-inflated and I attempted to swim unsuccessfully against the water flow. I grabbed for a landline and managed to crawl to the shore."

Burnham lifeboat spokesman Mike Lang added: "This incident highlights the importance of wearing a suitable lifejacket - Roger's was new and by automatically inflating probably saved his life."

He added that because of difficulty in launching the Staines Whitfield lifeboat through Burnham's beach mud at low water, the D-class Puffin lifeboat had been used to recover the dinghy.

Pictured: Top, helmsman Ashley Chappell with Roger Ferrier holding up the now deflated lifejacket that saved his life and, above, crewmembers Ashley Chappell, Lyndon Baker and Vashti Ross-Hatcher with the dinghy; and, below, the lifeboat launching during the incident on Burnham beach


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