Belfast Telegraph

Man who fell from Bann cruise boat 'lucky to be alive'

By Adrian Rutherford

A man who was rescued from the River Bann after falling from a cruise boat is lucky to be alive, it has been claimed.

Two police helicopters and 50 rescue volunteers were involved in the dramatic search operation, which was sparked after the man fell overboard and into the water.

The drama unfolded at around 10.30pm on Saturday night.

The man, understood to be aged in his 20s and from the Co Antrim area, was recovered on the river bank a short time later.

He was treated in hospital for shock and hypothermia but has since been allowed home.

Sean McCarry, from the Community Rescue Service, an organisation run by volunteers which co-ordinated the rescue effort, said he was fortunate to have survived.

"This man is extremely fortunate because it was dark and he was well up the river," he told the Belfast Telegraph.

"Many people who would enter a river - particularly the River Bann - would not come out of it alive. It is a dangerous river at any time of the year to end up in.

"Fortunately this man was found very fast and got very quick treatment, and I have no doubt the actions of the captain, crew and search teams led to him surviving this ordeal."

The boat was carrying around 65 passengers on a cruise of the river between Portglenone and Newferry when the incident happened.

Two PSNI helicopters were tasked to the scene and were joined by members of the Community Rescue Service.

Four boats were deployed and volunteers also searched the riverbank before locating the man. He was given first aid at the scene before being airlifted to hospital.

Mr McCarry said the rescue operation was over relatively quickly.

"While it was an extensive search, it wasn't prolonged," he added.

"The captain's actions meant the right people were in the right place."

The Community Rescue Service covers around 40 miles of the River Bann between Lough Neagh and Seaton's marina near Coleraine.

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