Angler’s fight for life in river ordeal

Kennie Murray pictured on a previous fishing expedition before his horrific ordeal
Kennie Murray pictured on a previous fishing expedition before his horrific ordeal

A fisherman was left fighting for his life after he slipped into a swollen river and was dragged down by his waterlogged clothes.

Kennie Murray was fishing in a sidestream of a remote part of the River Adur at Wineham when the horror unfolded.

He clung to some stinging nettles on the riverbank as the current dragged him - in full thermal fishing suit - below the water.

“There was one instance when I thought that was it, I’ve had it, but then I thought no, I’m not ready to go yet.”

Seventy-year-old Kennie - a member of Henfield Fishing Club - mustered all his strength to gradually work his way along the bank to a wooden bridge.

“I clung on but I could not pull myself out because of the weight and the current,” he said.

While still clinging to some nettles, he managed with one hand to grab the reel of his fishing rod on the bank and hook his fishing bag containing his mobile phone.

“I don’t know how I did it. I was up to my neck in running water for about half an hour.

“I dialled 999, but got cut off twice. When I finally got through to the emergency services I had to talk them through where they could find me because it was so remote. My body was going into shock.”

Police arrived on the scene and pulled Kennie from the water as firefighters arrived to help and carried him across nearby fields where he was treated by paramedics before being rushed to the Princess Royal Hospital in Haywards Heath.

He phoned his partner Hayley Broughton from the back of the ambulance to tell her what had happened. “She was distraught and got a taxi straight to the hospital.”

Kennie, of St Leonard’s Avenue, Hove, was treated for hypothermia and a head injury before being allowed home.

And as he recovered this week from his ordeal Kennie - who has been fishing for sixty years - paid tributed to the emergency services: “I would especially like to thank the two young policeman who pulled me out and probably saved my life.

“I would also like to thank the paramedic who was first on the scene and made sure I got warmed up as my body temperature had dropped; the ambulance ladies who took me to the Princess Royal Hospital and the firemen who helped me back across a very muddy field to the ambulance - and also all the staff at the Princess Royal who looked after me.”