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Lucky escape for farmer as car swept downstream by raging River Roe

By Donna Deeney

Published 27/01/2016

Fire crews were shocked to see the almost fully submerged vehicle
Fire crews were shocked to see the almost fully submerged vehicle

A farmer dodged death after being swept away in a raging torrent as he attempted to cross the River Roe in his off-road vehicle.

The Co Londonderry man told the Belfast Telegraph his life was saved when his vehicle jammed against a tree - giving him just moments to clamber out on to the roof.

The man, who did not want to be named, has farmed in the area all his life.

He was crossing a weir on the Roe near Crebarkey Road, Dungiven, when the fast-flowing current caught the trailer on the back of his vehicle.

He explained: "I was on my way to feed the sheep and I had a quad on the trailer.

"I have crossed the weir too many times to count and never experienced anything like this.

"I was almost at the other side when the current caught the trailer and it jack-knifed, and then I was in trouble.

"I rang my son straight away and he came with the tractor, and then a few of my neighbours arrived.

"But, in between that, I was stuck and was watching the water come in around me, rising all the time."

The man's son quickly realised how dangerous the situation was and called the Fire Service, whose personnel arrived at the scene a short time later.

"The current pulled the trailer and it toppled over and the quad was swept away, but then my jeep started sliding down the river and I really was worried then," the farmer said.

"I thought it was going to topple over too but, after about 400 yards, the jeep got lodged up against a tree and came to a stop.

"I didn't miss my chance and I managed to clamber out and climb on to the roof and stayed there until the Fire Service rescued me.

"I have to say I am extremely grateful to them and my friends and neighbours. I know myself I am lucky to be here."

Fireman Ciaran Doherty said he was "gobsmacked" when he saw the submerged vehicle.

He added: "When we arrived at the scene the depth marker showed the river had risen to six feet at that spot, but it was between eight and nine feet on either side so it was extremely dangerous.

"The family were in extreme danger because they were attempting to rescue the man from the river and, in the process, the river caught the trailer twice.

"But the second time, instead of jack-knifing, it carried the trailer down the river with the farmer still in the vehicle.

"We have had so much heavy rainfall over these past couple of months, our advice would be never to cross a river because anything above six inches can be dangerous."

The farmer was treated for shock by ambulance staff who also arrived at the scene but did not need any further medical assistance, despite his frightening ordeal.

Belfast Telegraph

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