Hypothermic couple found clinging to submerged speedboat mile from shore

Speedboat submerged on Lough Neagh
Speedboat submerged on Lough Neagh

A young couple made a lucky escape on Lough Neagh yesterday (Sunday) evening after the 17ft speedboat in which they were travelling sunk, leaving them clinging to its sides.

It is understood the boat may have earlier hit something and had started to take on water through a crack as it was travelling around a mile from Gawleys Gate.

The Speedboat is towed back to Ardboe

The Speedboat is towed back to Ardboe

A quick call to the Coastguard on a mobile phone and the fact they were both wearing life jackets may have been what saved the loughshore couple's lives, said a member of the crew.

The incident was reported at 7.26pm, after which crew from Ardboe and Kinnego were dispatched as well a SAR helicopter.

The pair were in the water for almost 20 minutes and had to be taken to hospital following their rescue to be treated for mild hypothermia, while crew returned to recover the vessel.

A post on Lough Neagh Rescue's Facebook page said: "Both the Ardboe and Kinnego lifeboats quickly launched and preceded to the area to search, the Ardboe lifeboat located the vessel which was almost completely submerged and had both casualties in the water clinging to the vessel.

"Both casualties were retrieved from the water and taken on board the lifeboat, an ambulance was requested and asked to meet at Crumlin Marina (Sandy Bay).

"The Ardboe lifeboat proceeded to Crumlin Marina and whilst in the marina the casualties were assessed and handed into the care of the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service, treated for hypothermia and taken to hospital for further observation/ treatment."

They went on to say: "This was a time critical incident and the skipper on board the casualty vessel did everything right, firstly both persons on board were wearing PFDs (Personal Flotation Devices). At the first sign of trouble they contacted the Coastguard, gave location of vessel, the nature of the emergency and the number of persons on board.

"This ultimately saved valuable time in the search and was a contributing factor to the successful outcome."

Wishing the couple a speedy recovery following their discharge from hospital, Lough Neagh Rescue added: "We would also like to thank the member of the public who provided an additional blanket for the casualties whilst in Crumlin Marina."

While attending this call-out crew from Kinnego were tasked to a second incident near Coney Island in which a speedboat suffered engine trouble, leaving five people without life jackets stranded and drifting.

Kinnego lifeboat made its way from Crumlin Marina at 8.20pm to find the vessel and tow it back to Maghery.

"We cannot stress enough the importance of a life jacket or PFD whist on or around the water," LNR said.