Durdle Door: Tombstone rescuer ‘feared he would drown’

Helicopter landing on the beachImage copyright
Dorset Police

Image caption

Emergency crews were called to Durdle Door on Saturday afternoon

A paddleboarder who retrieved a stricken man who had jumped 70ft (21m) into the sea said he thought he was going to drown in the rescue.

Mike Wiley, 31, found the man unconscious on the seabed after he had tombstoned from Durdle Door arch in Dorset on Saturday.

He described “swimming through the pain” as he hauled the man back to the surface.

The beach later had to be cleared to allow air ambulances to land.

Thousands of people flocked to Durdle Door Beach on the Jurassic Coast on Saturday following the easing of coronavirus lockdown restrictions.

Mr Wiley, from Southampton, said he had been paddleboarding at the beauty spot when he saw three men jump from the arch over the course of an hour.

He described frantic attempts by him and other swimmers to find a fourth man who failed to resurface after he leapt into the sea.

Image copyright
Mike Wiley

Image caption

Mike Wiley, 31, pulled the stricken tombstoner to the surface

“He hit the water so hard he didn’t even come up to the surface, he went straight down,” Mr Wiley said.

“I could see a white body on the seafloor, but it was so deep none of us could get to him. Everyone was in a state of panic.”

He said it took five attempts to reach the victim.

“When I got to him he was just laid on some seaweed and I grabbed his hand and kept swimming to the surface.

“I thought I was going to let go of him as I didn’t think I’d make it to the surface myself. I’d exhaled all the air in my lungs.

“I swum through the pain and the fact I thought I was going to drown – dragging a body through the water was hard.”

Four “incredible ladies” on the beach then performed CPR to get the man breathing again before medics arrived and he was flown to hospital.

“I honestly thought he wasn’t going to make it – he was down there for about four minutes,” Mr Wiley said.

“I’m replaying it over in my head. I can’t explain how hard it was.”

Image copyright
PA Media

Image caption

Crowds of people have flocked to the popular beauty spot since lockdown restrictions were eased

Mr Wiley said the man had no protective clothing.

“People don’t know their limitations, they think the water is soft. When you are jumping from that height it’s incredibly dangerous. The cold water shock alone will take the breath out of your lungs.”

In all three jumpers were seriously hurt and taken to hospital.

Despite the coastguard and police warning people not to leap from the landmark on Saturday, officers said others “still saw fit” to attempt it on Sunday.

Roads around the beauty spot, which is part of the privately owned Lulworth Estate, were closed but hundreds of people still travelled to the area, police said.

BBC News

Leave a Reply