Man who was '30 seconds from death' thanks rescuers

PUBLISHED: 06:30 26 October 2015

Les Norcliffe (left) pictured with Lindon Cordy this week. Ref exe 4639-43-15SH. Picture: Simon Horn

Les Norcliffe (left) pictured with Lindon Cordy this week. Ref exe 4639-43-15SH. Picture: Simon Horn

Archant

Granddad Lindon Cordy fell from his boat and cheated death by seconds - thanks to rescuers Exmouth Rowing Club saving his life.

Rugby player Lindon, 49, of Masey Road, Withycombe Raleigh, unsuccessfully grabbed at buoys and boats in a desperate attempt to save his life as the tide dragged him towards certain death.

The rowing club’s Saturday training session turned to a rescue mission when they spotted Lindon’s out-of-control boat repeatedly ‘doughnuting’ in the water - and heard his frantic cries for help.

Lindon, a Withycombe Raleigh Rugby Club second team prop forward, said he had been ‘prepared for death’.

“I was honestly on my last 30 seconds,” he said. “I had been in the water for almost half an hour. The water was going so fast. I was drifting up the estuary towards Exeter.

“The water was going over my head, but I managed to stay afloat. If they hadn’t come along when they did, I wouldn’t be here now.

“When I saw them, I felt absolute relief. I was shouting ‘please help me’. I was getting to the stage where hypothermia and shock sets in.

“I got to the stage where I prepared myself [to die].

“My absolute 100 per cent thanks to those lads and ladies from the rowing club - they saved my life.”

Lindon’s dice with death began when he slipped from his dingy, falling into the estuary water, as he lost his footing stepping across to his boat.

His tender sped around uncontrollably in the water, while Lindon surfaced 50 feet away from where he fell.

“Like an idiot, my life jacket wasn’t done up,” said Lindon. “It hooked on the side of the boat and came off. I was trying to grab other boats. I was trying to grab hold of buoys. The tide was running quite fast.

“The guys saw my dingy going round and round, but they couldn’t see me. Luckily, I had on a hi-viz jacket and they saw my yellow jacket through the water.

“I was prepared for death. I have been having nightmares ever since. It’s really affected me.”

Exmouth Rowing Club members were returning from training near Starcross when they heard shouts for help near a ‘whizzing’ boat.

Finding no one onboard the vessel, the rowers spotted 18-stone Lindon and dragged him to safety.

Les Norcliffe, 63, of Ryll Court Drive, a member of Exmouth Rowing Club since 2005, who was supervising cox and led the rescue, said: “He was probably not far from giving up. He was struggling - he was in trouble. He was also in danger of being mashed up. The boat was running free and, literally, was a navigational hazard.

“The thing that saved him was the tidal flow was coming in; he was moving with the tide. Fortunately, there was a northern breeze. The wind was holding back the boat, helping it to stay away from him. He was doing his best to just survive.

“We brought him in at the first attempt. He was tired, but the fight for survival was still in him. He just grabbed hold of the side of the boat and hung on like a limpet.”

Former police officer Les added: “When I spotted a small inflatable boat doing doughnuts, I thought it was somebody having a bit of fun. As we carried on between the moorings and the moored boats, I could see it was doing the same manoeuvre, which raised concerns.”

After calming a panic-stricken Lindon, the rowers took him to safety. His dingy eventually lost power and rowing club member Toby Lagus hopped aboard and shut off the engine.

Les said: “Every member of Exmouth Rowing Club on the water at the incident was absolutely brilliant. There were no arguments, no questions, no debate. Everybody quickly identified what was to be done. They were exemplary.”

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