Woman rescued from River Torridge

Joseph Bulmer

Emergency services mount large-scale operation on Bideford riverbank

A massive rescue operation took place in Bideford last night (Tuesday) when a woman fell into the River Torridge and was carried several hundred yards upstream by the incoming tide.

People watched as an RAF Chivenor helicopter hovered feet away from buildings at Wooder Wharf to winch the 49-year-old woman to safety after she had been pulled from the water by a police officer, who dived in to save her.

She was treated on the bankside by a lifeboat crew, paramedics, coastguards and police personnel before the helicopter positioned itself for the airlift.

Eyewitnesses said the woman entered the water near the Kingsley statue at around 7.30pm and the force of the tide carried her underneath a trawler. She eventually reappeared face down in the water and the tide carried her under the old Bideford Long Bridge to the point where she was plucked from the water.

Police said the woman was from the Bideford area. Her condition was described as critical as of midday today (Wednesday).

A spokesman for RAF Chivenor confirmed that the casualty was stabilised at the scene and airlifted to North Devon District Hospital in Barnstaple.

For more pictures of the rescue operation, click on the multimedia link on the top right of this page.