Welwyn Garden City woman dramatically rescued after North Sea ferry plunge

PUBLISHED: 10:53 06 September 2011 | UPDATED: 17:47 07 September 2011

The woman is winched out of the water by helicopter

The woman is winched out of the water by helicopter


A WOMAN from Welwyn Garden City was plucked to safety after falling overboard into the North Sea, on trip from Newcastle to the Netherlands.

The 21-year-old was reported as being in the sea just before 9pm last night (Monday) 20 miles North East of Flamborough Head, Yorkshire, after the Princess Seaways DFDS Ferry started on its journey from the port in North Shields.

She was in the water, said to have been 14C, for half an hour before being rescued by the ferry’s own crew and transferred to Scarborough Hospital by an RAF Sea King helicopter where she was checked for hypothermia.

Crews with the Humber Coastguard received the emergency call at 8.50pm and asked for assistance from the RAF.

Coastguard watch manager Mike Green said it was not known how she fell from the ferry, which was bound for the Dutch port of Ijmuiden.

He added: “We received a call about 8.45 last night from the Princess Seaways ferry.

“They said they’d had a person overboard and were reversing course.

“We alerted the RAF Sea King helicopter and put the Scarborough and Filey lifeboats on stand-by in case we had an extended search.”

Mr Green said the woman was “extremely lucky” because the water was “quite rough” and it was dark.

He added: “Hypothermia quickly sets in so it was fortunate she was spotted so quickly.

“It could easily have been a very different outcome.”

Passenger Hajo Neiser told the WHT: “We were in the cabin when the incident occured.

“The vessel was shaking from left to right due to the reverse mode.

“The announcement of the captain gave us more details.

“We run on deck as many other of the passengers did and looked after her in the darkness.

“Two major lights were searching the water, suddenly we saw a kind of head in the water and screamed to the captain´s bridge, she was screaming like ‘I don´t want to die’, the scenery was scary.

“A Lifebelt with light was thrown into the sea to mark the position.

“A rescue boat was sent out in the rough sea.

“At third attempt they managed to pull her in the boat and returning to the Princess Seaway, by the third attempt they managed to pull out the boat and rise it up.

“She was put into blankets and brought inside, then the people around spent a big applause to the crew who saved her.”

Another eyewitness said: “We were in our cabin when there was a message on the intercom saying a person fell overboard, that the ship had stopped and had turned around to go look for the missing person.

“We went outside to see if we could help in any way and they were already looking for the person with searchlights.

“The ship’s rescue boat had been lowered in the sea and was looking also.

“Apparently it didn’t take the crew long to find the woman who fell overboard, which I find quite a miracle since it was pretty dark. We hardly see a thing.

The rescue boat returned to the ship and was hoisted up.

“The crew immediately wrapped her in isolation foil and blankets and took her inside.”

He added: “The RAF helicopter arrived shortly, hovering alongside the ship.

“They dropped someone of and lowered a brancard, after about 15 minutes the woman and the previously dropped person was hoisted back on board.”

* Do you know the rescued woman? Call the newsdesk on 01707 384184 or email news@whtimes.co.uk

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