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Miracles happen: Coastguards’ account of search for man who was submerged in water for 20 hours

PUBLISHED: 13:52 19 June 2018 | UPDATED: 15:07 19 June 2018

Rescue teams as they search for the missing 75-year-old man at Titchwell Marsh. Picture: 
Hunstanton Coastguard Rescue Team

Rescue teams as they search for the missing 75-year-old man at Titchwell Marsh. Picture: Hunstanton Coastguard Rescue Team

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Missing Peter Pugh was submerged in water for 20 hours, coastguards revealed today.

Their report brings home how lucky Mr Pugh is to be alive - and the dedicated efforts of police, coastguards, fire fighters and lowland rescue to find him.

WATCH - video shows dramatic moment police drone finds missing Peter Pugh



“Team paged to search for a missing 75 year old man,” the report begins. “Last seen crossing the tidal inlet at Titchwell beach. Upon arrival at scene two members of Wells team were deployed to search Gypsy Lane down to last known position.

Station officer and deputy station officer went to reserve centre to commence search down to west bank at Titchwell RSPB. Hunstanton RNLI was requested by Wells station officer to conduct a shoreline search and rescue 912 (coastguard helicopter) was requested to conduct a visual and forward looking infrared search of the entire area.”

The search fanned out around Brancaster golf course and Titchwell as the evening wore on. After an “exhaustive search”, the teams were stood down. The operation resumed at 4am on Sunday.

“Over the next few hours assets came on scene which were Wells RNLI, Hunstanton CRT, USAR, Police with dedicated POLSA (police search adviser), specialist search dogs, Norfolk Lowland Search and Rescue,” the coastguard summary says. “Search plan was formulated by all teams and these were then actioned.”

The game changer came when police and fire service drones buzzed into the air.

Mr Pugh had been captured on an animal trap camera placed by the RSPB near Titchwell resrve. Wells coastguard had found footprints.

Rescue teams as they search for the missing 75-year-old man at Titchwell Marsh. Picture: 
Hunstanton Coastguard Rescue TeamRescue teams as they search for the missing 75-year-old man at Titchwell Marsh. Picture: Hunstanton Coastguard Rescue Team

As Cromer and Sheringham coastguard arrived, searchers focussed on the acres of thick Norfolk reeds bordering the salt marsh.

“This is some of the most hostile terrain in our area and is mainly inaccessible,” the coastguards say. “During this section of the search the casualty was located by the police drone and the teams were directed onto the casualty who was seen to be alive.

“The drone hovered over the casulaty to guide the teams in but even from 6ft the search teams could not see him because of the terrain. East Anglia Air Ambulance was requested, as was Rescue 912 who both attended.

“Casualty was extracted from his submerged position by Coastguard and USAR onto an inflatable sledge and stablised. Rescue 912 dropped a winch man in who lifted the casualty in a double strop harness.”

Mr Pugh was treated at the scene, before being airlifted to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital.

“Whilst this was going on a police officer delivered the good news to the Family that the casualty was alive after being submerged in water for over 20 hours,” the coastguard said.

“Many thanks to all agencies involved and also Titchwell RSPB, Burnham Deepdale Cafe for drinks and food. Miracles do happen. We were there.”

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