Baby rescued after buggy is swept into sea at Watchet harbour
A dock master dived into a freezing cold sea yesterday to rescue a six-month-old baby boy after his buggy was blown into 12ft-deep water by strong winds.
The infant, who was strapped in the pushchair, was swept into the water as his mother walked along the seafront at Watchet harbour, in Somerset at 8am yesterday.
After hearing screams for help, George Reeder, 63, initially thought a dog had fallen into the sea but was horrified to see the pushchair upturned in the water.
He dived in and pulled the pushchair to the wall, before a member of the public helped attach a rope to it and haul it to dry land – but not before the baby had spent around five minutes in the water.
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The baby was revived by a passer-by who administered cardiopulmonary resuscitation, before being taken to hospital, where he is now thought to be out of intensive care.
Mr Reeder, who has worked at the marina for 11 years, said he heard screaming from a couple of hundred yards away before jumping on his bibicycle to see what had happened.
He added: “I don’t know exactly how he went in, but I was on the esplanade and heard the commotion and I assumed somebody’s dog had gone into the water, so I went cycling over.
“They were on the West Pier, where you walk up to the lighthouse, some way away, but the noise travels and I could hear screaming from a woman.
“The mother was there and she said ‘my baby has gone in the water’, so I went to the edge and I could see the pushchair upside down, floating away.
“I just jumped in and pulled the pushchair back over to the edge of the quay, and then somebody put a rope down over and I tied it on and they lifted it out.
“As far as I know, what the police told me was that the wind blew the buggy in.”
Mr Reeder said it was “amazing” that the baby survived, adding: “The baby was still in the push chair, it was very cold, it is amazing really because he must have been in there for a good five minutes, under the water.
“They pulled up the pushchair and a lady started doing CPR, and then the Coastguard came, and the ambulance and the police, so I backed out of the way.”
A local member of the Coastguard took over the CPR from the woman and Mr Reeder said the baby started to take in breaths.
He said: “You could see his little mouth opening and taking in a breath and that’s when I thought it’s OK, he’s going to be OK.
“I know the family and the grandfather came over and said he was out of intensive care now and on the ward. The poor mother, she’ll probably never get over something like that, it’s your worst nightmare.”
A spokesman for Avon and Somerset Police said: “Police were called to the harbour in Watchet at 8.17am this morning to reports of a baby in the water. It is believed a gust of wind blew the buggy with the child in it into the water.
“A local fisherman rescued the six-month-old boy and he was airlifted to hospital for treatment. The condition of the baby is believed to be no longer life-threatening.”
Later yesterday a woman and her two-year-old daughter were rescued from the River Thames.
The girl had fallen through open railings into the water when her 34-year-old mother jumped in after her, a spokesman for Chiswick Royal National Lifeboat Institution said.
Both mother and child were taken to hospital following the rescue operation in Isleworth, west London, at about 5pm.
They were described as “very cold” but did not appear to be seriously hurt, London Ambulance said.
In Yorkshire, a canoeist died after being pulled from a fast-flowing swollen river by firefighters and mountain rescue volunteers.
The man got into difficulties in the River Arkle, near Reeth in the Yorkshire Dales, yesterday afternoon, prompting a major rescue operation.
Firefighters, using boats, pulled him out of the water but the Great North Air Ambulance Service confirmed last night that the man, who was in his 30s, had died.
The Environment Agency had around 80 flood warnings in place yesterday.