Dungiven farmer's dramatic river rescue

A Dungiven farmer has spoken of his thanks to those involved in his dramatic rescue from a river on Tuesday morning.

The man's vehicle wedged in a tree. It was subsequently washed away.

The man was rescued by friends and emergency crews after he got into difficulty and was swept along a river in his 4x4 vehicle.

The Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service (NIFRS) received a call at 9.51am to a report at the Crebarkey Road area.

Seven fire appliances were sent to the scene and assisted by the Special Rescue Team and the Fire Emergency Support service.

The man's vehicle wedged in a tree. It was subsequently washed away.

The man, left shaken by the ordeal, was treated at the scene by the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service for shock.

Speaking to the Derry Journal, the man said: “I’m very lucky.”

He explained how he had set out to round up sheep that morning, crossing the river as a short cut, which he does regularly. However, on this occasion the sheep trailer he was towing was too light to deal with the volume of water that suddenly engulfed the vehicle. He said the water forced the trailer, which had a four-wheel drive bike on board, sideways, pulling the vehicle down the river until it jammed against a rock.

The man watched helplessly as moments later the trailer and bike were swept away.

The man's vehicle wedged in a tree. It was subsequently washed away.

The man phoned his son for help, and he called the NI Fire & Rescue Service.

Friends were also alerted and arrived on scene with a tractor in a bid to pull him and the vehicle out.

However, at that point the vehicle started to move and was swept further along the river until it became wedged in a tree.

With water filling up inside the vehicle, the man said it was a frightening experience but, between NIFRS personnel and friends, he was hauled to safety using ropes.

He said he never thought when he set out on his journey it would end in the way it did.

He wants to say a massive ‘thank you’ to everyone involved in the rescue operation.

The man said the vehicle was subsequently washed down river along with the bike.

He is appealing to anyone who sees either vehicle - a grey Volkswagen 4x4 Amarok, and a red Honda 500 four-wheel drive - to contact police on the non-emergency number 101 and quote the reference number ‘281 of 26/01/16’.