17/05/2010

Sea Drama Follows North West 200

There were several emergency costal incidents over the North West 200 weekend in the North.

First, a spectator who fell from a cliff at Portrush has been left in a critical condition in hospital after he fell about 60ft.

He was at the annual event which attracts thousands of motorcycling enthusiasts to the North Coast to watch one of the world's fastest motorbike road racing events with many also making the best of the weekend when the races are complete.

As a result of their own later celebrations, two people then had to be rescued from the sea at Portrush after they got into trouble in the cold water on Saturday evening.

Had a member of the public not heard them shouting for help and made a 999 call, the pair - who were drunk - would have not survived after they entered the sea after they thought they saw a dog struggling to get ashore.

They were rescued by the Portrush lifeboat whose spokesman, Operations Manager Robin Cardwell told the BBC that the two men involved in the rescue on Saturday evening were lucky to be alive.

He said that when the lifeboat arrived, they were both about 40 metres from shore and had drifted about 100 metres apart.

"One of them managed to keep afloat while the other was more or less lying on top of the water," he said.

Mr Cardwell said that when they were brought on to the lifeboat, they were violently sick and showing signs of hypothermia.

"We got them into the boathouse and by that stage an ambulance had arrived. They weren't saying a lot and they were sick in the boathouse as well," he said.

"There's no doubt in my mind that if the boat hadn't got there when it did, they would have perished."

He said there was no sign of any dog in the water.

Meanwhile, a man was yesterday rescued from the sea in rough conditions near Portrush on Sunday after falling from a boat.

Two people onboard the 18-foot cabin cruiser made a mayday call at about 9.20am on Sunday from about half a mile east of Ballintoy harbour.

A rescue helicopter was scrambled from Prestwick in Scotland but it returned to base after the man was brought to safety.

(BMcC/GK)

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