Thursday, April 21, 2011

Janet Richardson, 73-Year-Old British Cruise Ship Passenger Is Dropped Into Icy Seas During Botched Rescue

Janet Richardson, 73, is fighting for her life in hospital after spending four minutes struggling to stay afloat in the icy sea.

She had been returning from seeing the Northern Lights with her husband George, 78, when she was taken ill with internal bleeding on board the Ocean Countess.

The ship’s captain was so concerned about her condition that he decided she needed urgent medical treatment and would have to be taken to a hospital immediately.

He radioed the authorities on the Norwegian mainland and they launched a rescue operation.

Ordeal: The poorly pensioner desperately tries to keep afloat while horrified onlookers watch from above

Within minutes a lifeboat had pulled up alongside the Ocean Countess and Mrs Richardson was placed on a stretcher.

'Trip of a lifetime': Janet and George Richardson before she was taken ill and the accident happened

But as she was passed from the Ocean Countess to the waiting lifeboat the two boats moved apart from one another and Mrs Richardson was suddenly dropped into the icy sea – which was as cold as -3C (27F).

They then took an astonishing four minutes to pull her to safety. The horrifying events were captured on film by a horrified passenger on the icy deck above. His extraordinary pictures show Mrs Richardson struggling to stay afloat in the freezing water.

A passenger watches as pensioner Janet Richardson is lowered from the cruise ship on to a rescue boat on a stretcher Mrs Richardson, who was wearing a lifebelt during the botched rescue, was eventually hauled back on to the lifeboat and transported to Bodo, just north of the Arctic Circle.

Passengers crane over the side to see where the patient has gone as Mrs Richardson can be seen floating in the water moments after the stretcher fallsBut at the dockside she stopped breathing and was given mouth-to-mouth resuscitation before being taken to a nearby hospital where she was put under sedation.

She has now been airlifted to the Cumberland Hospital in Carlisle, Cumbria, where her devastated husband is keeping a bedside vigil in the intensive care unit.

The retired farmer from Penrith spoke of the moment he watched his wife fall into the sea and disappear from view on what was meant to have been the cruise of a lifetime.

‘When they tried to move her on to the lifeboat the ship was still moving,’ Mr Richardson said. They tried to keep the lifeboat close to the side but suddenly its rear end moved away from the main ship

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