Saturday 14 December 2019

Relieved mum thought baby son was dead after buggy blown into icy harbour

George Reader, the dock master at Watchet Marina in Somerset, who dived into freezing cold waters to rescue a six month old baby boy after his buggy was blown in by strong winds
George Reader, the dock master at Watchet Marina in Somerset, who dived into freezing cold waters to rescue a six month old baby boy after his buggy was blown in by strong winds

Emma Hallett

THE mother of a six-month-old baby blown off a harbour wall in his buggy said she thought he was dead after he was submerged in the icy water for more than five minutes.

Sam Cooper-Stevens was strapped in the buggy when his mother looked away for a minute, only to turn back and see it skidding across the wall at Watchet Harbour, Somerset, on Sunday morning.

His parents say they are still astonished that he survived the accident and his mother, Kate Cooper, 34, said she wants to "hug him forever".

It was around 8am that a sudden gust of wind swept the buggy off the sea wall and heroic dockmaster George Reeder dived into the water to pull him to safety.

Ms Cooper told the BBC: "I thought he was dead. I thought he has been under there for far too long, I was just collapsed on the pier, screaming still. I thought that was it.

"I had put the brake on, turned around, and the buggy was skidding across the wall, and I just didn't get there in time, it went over the wall and I just didn't make it."

Ms Cooper started screaming and said she thought about jumping in herself, but that something in her brain stopped her.

Luckily her cries for help were heard from a couple of hundred yards away and Mr Reeder, 63, rushed to the scene and immediately jumped in after the buggy.

"He jumped straight in and before I knew it everyone had turned up," Ms Cooper said.

"Everyone was brilliant with the way they kicked in."

After Mr Reeder dived in to bring the baby to the surface, a team of rescuers quickly fashioned a hoist to pull Sam from the water.

Psychiatric nurse Tanya Allen, 43, who lives locally, had also heard the screams and began performing resuscitation on Sam.

The baby began coughing shortly after being laid down on the marina wall and was transferred to Musgrove Park Hospital in Taunton, where his condition is said to have vastly improved.

Ms Cooper said: "Sam is brilliant, he's smiling, he is bouncing again, he's doing so well, so well.

"I'm just going to stay at home and hold him forever and give him hugs."

Sam's rescue has been described as "a miracle" by well-wishers and members of the local community.

It is thought the cold water may have protected his organs and helped save his life.

Following the incident his father, Martyn Stevens, made an emotional return to the scene where he paid tribute to rescuers.

Mr Stevens said: "I want to say thank you to everyone that helped out.

"The response of everyone was amazing and I don't think you can get any better than that. It goes to show Watchet is a great place."

Medics at Musgrove Park Hospital said Sam is expected to make a full recovery.

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