Man saved from drowning in freezing Thames by clinging to rowing oar

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Man saved from drowning in freezing Thames by clinging to rowing oar
4th June 2014

A man was saved from drowning in the River Thames by clinging to a rowing oar held out by a Good Samaritan. 

He was just moments from being swept away after being in the freezing water for about 30 minutes when a crew from the RNLI London Lifeboat arrived. 

On arrival near Kew Bridge they spotted the man clinging to a rowing oar held by a person on the path at about 7.15pm on Monday. 

But he couldn’t be pulled to safety as there was two meters between the path and the waterline.

The lifeboat moved into a position where the crew could take hold of the man in the water. He was taken to the stern of the lifeboat and brought aboard.

RNLI Helmsman Gary Tiller said: “When we arrived the man was clinging to a rowing oar held at the other end by passers-by on the footpath above.  

“They couldn’t get him out of the water as he was at the base of a wall and they were at least two metres above him.

“He was very cold and tired having been in the water for around 30 minutes and was beginning to panic. 

“He could only have held on for a short while longer and would then have been swept away. The only other vessels in the area were single sculling boats and one coaching vessel none of which would have had the stability or capacity to rescue him.’

The rescue has been classed as a life saved. The RNLI uses specific criteria to record a life saved - it applies when a person would most likely have lost their life were it not for the intervention of a lifeboat crew. It is not known how the man ended up in the river.

Pictures courtesy of RNLI

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