Major rescue operation launched after fears teen had drowned in river

A MAJOR rescue operation took place after a youth disappeared in a river when a dinghy hit a weir on Thursday evening.

Monday, 23rd April 2012, 11:00 am

It was a cold night and heavy rain meant Colne Water was heaving down rapidly towards Nelson.

Firefighters covered around three miles of the river from Colne to Pendle Water, Brierfield, and a police helicopter spent an hour over the river. There were fears the 13-year-old had drowned.

But Colne Primet High School pupil Gus Campbell then arrived at Phillips Lane, Colne, and told a firefighter: “I’m the one you are looking for!” The firefighter wrapped him in his fire jacket to avoid hypothermia and got him across the bridge to a waiting ambulance. Everyone was relieved to see him arrive there safely.

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He was taken to hospital but released after treatment for minor injuries and coldness. The other two were also taken for treatment but were only affected by minor problems.

The three teenagers were on the dinghy near Millennium Green, Waterside, when it had a problem at a weir. Gus ended up falling out of the boat and held on to it initially and was then swept down the river.

So the big search operation then started. Firefighters came from Colne, Nelson, Blackburn and Darwen. They were joined by the police and the helicopter, and ambulance crews and officers.

The helicopter used its thermal image camera to try to track Gus. He is understood to have been swept along but then reached the bank and managed to pull himself out.

All three were taken to Royal Blackburn Hospital.