A quick-thinking boat hire owner went to the rescue of a teenage girl after a training exercise went wrong on the River Dee .
Paul Eeles, who runs Chester Boat Hire at The Groves , was carrying out daily checks when he noticed a group of youngsters being taught to use aluminium coaching boats, with outboard motors, close to the weir on Wednesday morning (August 9).
One of the boats went over the weir leaving a girl, aged about 14 or 15, behind in the water clinging to a piece of wood.
Paul immediately sped across to the scene in his safety boat where he asked those present if he should rescue the girl, who was wearing a wet suit and life jacket. He instructed the teenager to climb aboard and applied the throttle to overcome the force of the ‘rushing water’.
He described her as being 'shaken' and 'frightened' but otherwise unharmed.
Paul, who has worked on the river for more than 40 years, said: “I think there should be a high standard of care out on the river if you’re looking after children – it’s not just having a certificate, it’s about having a big helping of common sense. When you’re out on the water you need to look out for the conditions on the river.”
He said there were warning signs telling river users not to go beyond a certain point and there needed to be ‘a good reason’ for ignoring this advice.
The danger was the girl could have gone over the weir and been knocked unconscious. Water circulation patterns on the downstream side—typically called a hydraulic jump— can submerge a person indefinitely making a rescue potentially extremely difficult at that point.
“It’s not to be trifled with,” commented Mr Eeles, who said the group of four youngsters and three adults were out in three boats and he did not know the organisation involved. However, he recognised at least two coaches running the session.