Man hails everyday heroes as he relives dramatic landslide rescue and subsequent airlift to hospital

A man engulfed by earth after a landslide on the East Coast has shared his account of his dramatic rescue.

By The Newsroom
Friday, 13th November 2020, 11:15 am
The Coastguard Rescue Helicopter attended the landslide at Port Mulgrave.

The man had to be airlifted to hospital after being swamped by the landslide at Port Mulgrave, between Staithes and Runswick Bay, two years ago.

He said his life flashed before him during the incident which saw him break his leg and ribs.

He was rescued by a team of fishermen along with Staithes, Whitby and Redcar Coastguard Rescue Teams as well as the Coastguard Rescue Helicopter and Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust.

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He said: “I had spent a day on the beach with friends having a laugh and not a care or worry in the world and, after the sun had set and I had dinner with friends, I went on the beach before setting off to get back home to watch the full moon rise and light up the whole beach for a few minutes.

“It was an amazing sight and I was in a happy place, lost in my thoughts, but that was about to instantly change as I was literally about to walk away when I was stuck on the back of my head three times in succession by what felt like blows from a baseball bat.

“Falling towards the ground thinking I was being attacked by some random stranger, I realised there was nothing behind me but a sheer wall of clay, mud and various sizes of sandstone rock.

“I quickly went to run and at that point what I can only describe as a dull and quiet somewhat dark thud of a wall of 14ft and between 10 and 12 tonnes of this wet and heavy mixture of mud and rock collapsing at the very point I was standing.

“As I took my first step to run away, a heavy and dead weight pounded my back with some force. I pushed with all I had but was engulfed and forced to the floor inside this mound.

“That’s when I can honestly say your life does flash before you. The weight of the fall broke my femur bone and I was later told by surgeons that the pressure then shot up around my body and found a weak spot in my chest and ‘exploded’ were their words, hence why my ribs broke. All this took my voice and I was unable to shout, speak or call for help.

“Finally my voice returned and was calling for help, where my good friend Nick could faintly hear me call and knew I was in trouble.

“Being just us, he knew he would be unable to get me out of what can be only described as hell and had to get a call out to the rescue services and, having no phone reception on that part of the beach, I had to be left alone.

“I can only describe that as the worst ever five minutes of my life.

“Thankfully a man called Fletcher who was about to enjoy a night’s sea fishing was the first person Nick came across.

“He made me feel at ease and was digging with his bare hands to try and relieve the pressure that was on me – immense was the word.

“As Nick swiftly returned he told me help was on the way and also with him was John Lowther along with maybe six to eight fishermen and, as a team and around an hour and 20 minutes later, I was finally lifted out and carried to a much safer area .

“A rescue team was working their way down a makeshift path down a cliff that they might have never attempted before, carrying lots of heavy equipment.

“Heroes don’t just come in comic books and wear colourful costumes and have superhuman powers, they walk and talk amongst us, come in all shapes and sizes too.

“These men and women work all hours, do double shifts. They could be off for a night’s fishing or taking their loved one out for a meal.

“Yet if their emergency alarm bell rings, they drop where they are doing and even endanger their own life.

“You are most certainly all heroes in my heart.”