A lucky escape

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Further details are to hand about the amazing rescue on February 9 of a young driver, when her car fell into the Military Canal near Scotts Float (as reported in Rye News last week).

Richard White was working at the Environment Agency (EA) depot immediately opposite the scene of the crash. Hearing the sounds of impact, he looked up just as the car was spinning out of control before toppling into the canal. He rushed across the road to find the car floating downstream with its windscreen smashed and yelled to the driver to get out. Somehow she struggled through the window and jumping into the water, he grasped her arm and dragged her to the bank.

Escorted in a shocked condition to the EA offices, she was offered warm clothing and a hot drink, whilst waiting for the ambulance to arrive. The driver’s father, a retained Rye firefighter perhaps more used to rescuing victims of car crashes on dry land, also arrived and after paramedical clearance took his 19 year old daughter home. She was apparently fit enough to return to work travelling the same route the following week.

Project Engineer Ian Nunn (l) with Barry Green

Barry Green, the lock-keeper at Scotts Float amongst other duties, also rushed to the scene. He said later: “the young lady was three times lucky: lucky to escape injury, lucky the windscreen broke and lucky the car floated long enough for her to get out alive. Others have not been so lucky in my 30 years experience.”

The precise location of the car remains a mystery. “With the force of the floodwater that day at 7-8 knots, it could well have been pushed and rolled down river through the sluice and out to sea on its way to the Goodwin Sands, where I’ve known wreckage land up”, said Barry Green.

“Alternatively, it could still be upstream”, said Ian Nunn, EA Project Engineer. We’ll possibly make a drone survey, using the latest LIDAR technology, which uses laser pulse emissions to locate an object (similar in concept to radar which however uses sonar imaging). “Eventual recovery would probably be a matter for the insurance company to sanction and be responsible for. Meanwhile the warning Notice to Mariners remains in place, though the likely traffic upstream would only be for light vessels.”

Even as we watched this tranquil stretch of canal, a couple of canoes came into sight and drew into the bank just about where the accident had occurred.

Image Credits: Kenneth Bird .

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