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Monday 5 December 2016

Three saved from drowning in dramatic Coast Guard rescues over the weekend

Published 11/04/2016 | 02:30

The Coast Guard helicopter at Letterkenny Hospital after the rescue of a man from a capsized boat Photo: Michael Treacy
The Coast Guard helicopter at Letterkenny Hospital after the rescue of a man from a capsized boat Photo: Michael Treacy
The fisherman's life jacket Photo: Michael Treacy

A fisherman had a lucky escape when he was cut free from a sinking boat after it capsized off the coast of Donegal.

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The 67-year-old had been fishing for lobsters when locals alerted Malin Head Coast Guard after seeing him floating in the water.

When responders arrived to the scene, he had become tangled in a rope that was wrapped around him and pulling him under the water with the sinking boat.

The incident occurred near Innishinny Island at 5pm on Saturday. Rescue efforts were hampered by poor weather and rough seas when lifeboats from Bunbeg and Aranmore station arrived on the scene.

The man was wearing a life jacket, which was helping to keep him afloat before the boat went under.

With the conditions worsening and the boat sinking, a Coast Guard helicopter from Sligo was brought in to assist with the rescue operation.

Winchman Gary Robertson was lowered towards the boat. He was forced to cut the man loose with a knife as part of a last-ditch effort to save him.

The man was taken from the water approximately 40 minutes after the boat had capsized.

"If they arrived moments later, he would have gone down with the vessel," said a Coast Guard spokesperson.

"The winchman could not cut the ropes until there was tension on it, so it was very tricky.

"When he cut the rope, the bow of the vessel bobbed under the water. By the time they were back in the aircraft, the boat was gone."

The man was in a stable condition in hospital last night.

As the helicopter was returning to Sligo, it had to assist with the rescue of two surfers in Leitrim.

One man was pulled from the water, again by the winchman, while a lifeboat from Bundoran was able to remove the other man from the water.

Irish Independent

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