A woman accompanying schoolchildren back from Calais was “lucky to be alive” after apparently throwing herself 130 feet off a P&O ferry into the water below.
French police officers are now questioning the 21-year-old British woman, described as being in a “bad way” following the incident at 1pm on Saturday afternoon.
The unnamed woman fell from the Spirit of Britain, the largest ferry in the P&O fleet, but was rescued from the water after less than six minutes by its quick-thinking crew.
Reports suggest that children with whom the woman had just been on a school skiing trip were among those watching on as she jumped, though it was unclear whether she was their teacher or an assistant.
An officer in Calais told the Mirror: “She suffered a leg injury as she hit the water, but is otherwise unscathed. Friends who saw what happened suggested she had wanted to commit suicide.
“She was part of a party which had just got back from a skiing holiday in the Alps.
“Her medical condition is good, but clearly she’s still in a very bad way psychologically. Officers are speaking to her to try and find out exactly what happened.”
Ferry traffic was severely disrupted by the incident which occurred just inside Calais Harbour, but P&O said the outcome could have been very different if it had happened out at sea.
Bernard Barron, the lifeboat chief at Calais, said the speed of the rescue by the P&O crew likely saved the woman’s life.
“She had a great deal of luck. She could easily have fallen victim to icy water with a temperature of only 8C, or been swept away by the very strong currents.
“We should congratulate the crew of the Spirit of Britain for the way they reacted. It was hugely impressive. Without them, she might not be alive.”