Woman saved from Thames drowning by ‘chance’ night rescue after RNLI crewman hears splash

Tower lifeboat 'Hurley Burley' with helmsman Craig Burn (right) with crewmen Will Ellwood and Chris

Tower lifeboat 'Hurley Burley' with helmsman Craig Burn (right) with crewmen Will Ellwood and Chris Walker [photos: Nathan Williams] - Credit: RNLI

A woman was saved from drowning in the Thames today in a night-time rescue after a Tower lifeboat helmsman heard a splash by chance through an open window.

RNLI helmsman Craig Burn

RNLI helmsman Craig Burn - Credit: RNLI

The RNLI crews are normally mobilised by London Coastguard or 999 emergency calls.

But this time it was duty helmsman Craig Burn who happened to be in the lifeboat station crewroom at 2.30am when he heard the noise.

“I looked out and saw a perfect ripple circle in the calm water and could just make out something in the darkness that looked like a black bin sack,” he said.

“I thought someone had probably thrown something into the water.”

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But he took no chances and woke the rest of the charity’s lifeboat crew, including two volunteers on standby night-shift after their day’s work.

They launched the lifeboat to investigate—when Craig realised it was a woman face down in the water.

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“We got her onto the lifeboat,” he added. “She wasn’t breathing and was unconscious.”

The woman was given CPR resuscitation several times when she suddenly gasped.

“It was that moment when she gasped for air that was the knife-edge between life and death,” Craig recalled. “The water was so calm—I wouldn’t have heard the splash if I hadn’t kept the window open. She was a very lucky girl.”

The woman, in her 30s, was brought back to the lifeboat station where ambulance paramedics treated her before taking her to hospital.

The RNLI’s Tower lifeboat station, the busiest in the British Isles, launched to 465 emergencies last year alone, rescuing 90 people and saving 15 lives.

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