Bridge jump man lucky to be alive

MEMBERS of the public watched in horror as a young man jumped off Coleraine’s Sandelford Bridge last Tuesday afternoon.

The man - believed to be in his 20s - was seen by a number of people as he jumped from the “new bridge” around 1pm.

Police received a number of 999 calls to alert them to the incident. Bann Rescue Service was tasked to the area too.

Our exclusive picture shows the man being brought to shore by members of the BRS team.

Sean McCarry of the Rescue Service told the Times: “We were dispatched after the police reviewed numerous emergency calls about the young man.

“From the time we received the call, got to our boat at the Cranagh and had rescued the man and had him in the ambulance took just ten minutes.

“He is a very lucky young man because once you go into that river, you don’t have much chance of getting back out.”

The man, who was reported to have been bare-chested when he jumped from the bridge, was recovering from hypothermia and shock in hospital after the incident.

Mr McCarry also paid tribute to the police officers who arrived on the scene initially and managed to get a “throw line” to the man.

“He is extremely lucky to be out alive. The water would be around four degrees at this time of year. You would not survive at all,” said Mr McCarry, who added that Bann Rescue Service answers around 100 calls a year in the River Bann.

“If it had not been for the police officers’ fast actions, it could have been a very different outcome.

“It was a very good joint operation.”