Episode 17 Close Calls: On Camera


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Episode 17

A fishing trawler is sinking off the Shetland Islands, and one of the rescuers discovers his close friends are on board. Plus a little boy is trapped in a tumble dryer.


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A close call - a moment of danger when life can hang in the balance.

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I could die here. This is really serious.

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A split second where the outcome could go either way.

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Right, call 999 now.

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The difference between disaster and survival.

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You could see it on the faces of the crew, how life-threatening this was.

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Why would you need to swim?

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Apparently they're supposed to still be on a boat.

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These are the people that have been there and lived to tell the tale.

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I thought she had died.

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It's a day they'll never forget.

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The day they had a close call.

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Today on Close Calls, a fishing trawler in trouble in the North Sea.

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It's taking on water at a rapid rate.

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A passing vessel has gone to her aid.

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A coastguard helicopter and a lifeboat stand by,

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but there's no saving the trawler.

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It's going to be a battle to save the crew.

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Swimming as hard as we could, we couldn't get away from the boat.

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It's a lot of tonnes of steel you can see coming towards you.

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And an emergency operator receives an extraordinary call

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about a young boy.

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Also today, two brothers on a skiing trip when one disappears

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straight down a crevasse.

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It was like a nightmare, really.

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I just thought, "This is going to be a pretty horrible way to die."

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The North Sea, off the coast of the Shetland Islands.

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A fishing trawler is sinking.

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Its crew of five are still on board, along with two rescue workers.

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Time is running out for all seven men.

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A deck hand on another vessel films as the stricken boat

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begins to slip beneath the waves.

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The men must jump into the icy waters before the trawler

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drags them down with it.

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If anybody had got caught up in the rigging,

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even with a life jacket on, it's a heavy boat, it's...

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They're not going to be seen again.

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The Shetlands are the most remote islands in the UK,

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situated more than 100 miles north-east of the Scottish mainland.

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The largest port, Lerwick, is home to the fishing fleet,

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a mainstay of the island's economy.

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Darren Harcus moved here from Orkney to be closer to his job.

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For six years, the trawler Ocean Way has been his workplace.

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Its joint skippers Steven Hughson

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and his dad Leslie have become his close friends.

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Both great guys to get on with. Happy to work with them.

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Just very easy-going and makes everybody's life easy.

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Darren works two weeks on the trawler then returns home

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to his fiancee and six daughters for two weeks off.

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Yeah, family life is good. I suppose absence makes the heart grow fonder.

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I don't know what it is about the fishing.

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You just get lured back every time.

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I've tried several other jobs and always end up going back to fishing.

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The lure of the sea is so strong that even when Darren

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is on shore leave he volunteers as a crew member with the RNLI.

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Joining the lifeboat team fulfilled a lifelong ambition.

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Since I was a little boy, I remember them coming out to Westray Regatta.

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Back then, they would take people out on the boat.

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I remember thinking that was amazing as a kid.

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Yeah, I just want to help other people at sea.

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I think everybody does.

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It's a Friday morning in March and Darren is at home

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when his pager goes off.

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He's stunned when he learns the name of the boat putting out

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a mayday call.

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One of the guys said that it's the Ocean Way, it's your boat.

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So, yeah, all sorts of things going through my mind at that time.

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On board are his lifelong friends, his second family,

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but he's reassured when he's told the situation isn't critical,

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although the boat is taking on water.

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Just thought it would be run out there and meet them,

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put a pump on board, pump it out, get them tied out safely, job done.

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But it didn't happen like that, obviously.

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When Darren and his RNLI crew mates arrive at the scene 20 miles

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off the coast of Lerwick, the trawler is listing badly.

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A Norwegian salmon boat, the Gerde Saele,

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is already standing by to offer help.

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A crew member films as a coastguard rescue helicopter circles above.

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Darren and another RNLI volunteer, John Best,

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are transferred to the Ocean Way with a powerful pump,

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but water is pouring in so quickly it can't cope.

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To start with, when we got the pump fired up,

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the water was actually about us. It was maybe two foot high.

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It was getting worse and worse.

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We told them that we really do need to get people off.

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The crew think part of the boat's fishing equipment called

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the trawl door slammed into the hull when it was under water

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and pierced the reinforced steel.

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Knowing the Ocean Way is lost, the skipper shuts down the engines,

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causing a puff of black smoke to erupt.

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Darren calls the lifeboat back in, and the trawler's skipper,

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Steven, gives the order to abandon ship.

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Water is now coming over the top rail of the deck.

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The bow of the Ocean Way is lifting out of the water.

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The lifeboat comes alongside,

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but it's too late to do a boat-to-boat transfer.

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When the boat started going vertical, that's when me

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and John Best gave the order to jump.

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It'll be safer in the water away from the Ocean Way sinking,

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because if anybody had got caught up in the rigging,

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even with a life jacket on, it's a heavy boat, it's...

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They're not going to be seen again.

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Some of the crew are reluctant to jump,

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but Darren knows they have no choice.

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Just screaming at them to jump.

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Full faith in the lifeboat being able to pick them up.

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There's that much adrenaline pumping,

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I wasn't really thinking, just doing.

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There's a one-metre swirl

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and the water is only six degrees as the men launch themselves into it.

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Skipper Steven is the last man off.

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I wasn't 100% sure if Steven was much of a swimmer or not,

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so I made a bit of a beeline for him.

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Footage shot from the RNLI boat and the Norwegian trawler shows

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the men in the water swimming desperately to safety.

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Darren and Steven are only feet away from the sinking vessel,

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in danger of being dragged down with it.

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Swimming as hard as we could, we couldn't get away from the boat.

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It's a lot of tonnes of steel you can see coming towards you.

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Darren's RNLI colleague shepherds the other crew members

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towards the rescue boat.

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The trawler's crew are hauled on board the lifeboat

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one at a time with the help of a special harness.

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There was... I don't know how to describe it. Slight disbelief.

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Everybody was almost happy just because they're safe,

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trying to make the best of a bad situation, I guess.

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But there's no hope of salvage for the Ocean Way.

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It vanishes beneath the waves. It's too much for the trawler's skipper.

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Steven was pretty quiet on the way in. I mean, really quiet.

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I was a bit worried that he was going into shock,

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obviously having been in the cold water, just trying to keep

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an eye on him, try and engage with him and make sure he's speaking.

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Back on shore, the crew are given the all clear.

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But everyone involved is aware how close they came to disaster.

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Later that night, my fiancee did give me a big cuddle

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and say she was extremely proud of me, which...

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Maybe it was a big deal.

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Coming up later...

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..a skier plunges down a crevasse. His body cam records the fall.

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He comes to a stop on a small ledge.

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This is the view up and this is the view down.

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Bangor, County Down, Northern Ireland.

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A worried dad makes a 999 call.

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It's unlike any other the call taker has ever received.

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The little boy's mother has just discovered her son

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locked inside the machine.

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When I opened the dryer, it was just like a wee rag doll.

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It was just like living a nightmare.

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Paramedics are briefed and rushed to the family's address.

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Responded as quickly as we could.

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We're hoping for the best but preparing for the worst on the way.

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Gillian Duffy and her husband Aaron are teenage sweethearts.

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Now married, they live with their family in the pretty seaside

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town of Bangor in Northern Ireland.

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I've got four children. My eldest is Sophie. She's 12.

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The next one's Sasha. She's 11.

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Then there's Freddy, who's seven, and Riley, who is five.

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The two girls are close. Close in age.

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Girls being girls, they'll fight a bit out over bits and pieces.

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Freddy and Riley are very close, but as a whole family,

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they all play with each other regardless.

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The couple's youngest child, Riley, was born with Down's syndrome

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and other related medical issues, including a heart problem.

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Before he was even six months old, he needed open heart surgery.

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It was a frightening time for the family.

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The doctor told us then how severe Riley was.

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He gave Riley 24 hours to live and said we need to put him

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to operation and we need to get him stronger.

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It was a long road, but we haven't looked back.

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He's been great ever since.

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Now five, Riley is full of mischief.

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Riley, he's a face that melts your heart.

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But he is into everything. Just have to, 24/7, just keep an eye on him.

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But it's not easy.

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Riley doesn't always understand why he has to stay

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away from certain things in the house.

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With Riley it's a lot more difficult because he's nonverbal.

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He does have a few words that he uses, but it's mainly just signing.

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You are having to repeat yourself with Riley,

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so it is continuously, you know, "Don't do it, it's dangerous."

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"No, no, no" all the time

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with different things, dangers around the house.

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But it's not just Mum, Dad and his siblings who keep a watchful

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eye on Riley, so does Teddy, the family dog.

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Teddy obviously realises that Riley has special needs

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and there's something that bit special with Riley.

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You can see Teddy looking out for him all the time,

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always following Riley around, just keeping an eye on him as well.

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In fact, Teddy has a track record

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for looking out for the entire family.

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One night, Teddy came in and she was acting all weird.

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Then we started smelling a smoky smell.

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It was our charger was just about to go on fire.

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She had detected it from the other room.

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When Teddy had done that, I thought Teddy was a hero,

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to me, you know, cos she's alerted us to that.

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It's a wet Sunday afternoon

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and Gillian is upstairs doing the housework.

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Husband Aaron is at his mum's nearby,

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and the girls are at the cinema.

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Freddy and Riley are downstairs.

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The usual Sunday, getting everything ready for school the next day.

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Freddy was glued to the TV, as normal,

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and Riley was playing on his wee iPad.

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I was just up and down the stairs, so they were happy as Larry.

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But as Gillian gets to work with a vacuum in her daughter's

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bedroom, the family pet appears.

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Teddy came running in and was barking and running in and out

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and in and out, frantic.

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Instinctively, Gillian knows something is very wrong.

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I stopped the hoover

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and ran downstairs screaming to my other son, Freddy,

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"Where's Riley? Where's Riley?"

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We just went looking for him, and Freddy started shouting,

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"There's an iPad in the tumble dryer.

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I was like, "This can't be happening."

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Frantic, Gillian rushes into the utility room to find

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the dryer on and something tumbling around inside it.

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Riley, with his love of dark, quiet spaces has climbed

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inside the dryer, somehow shutting the door, restarting the cycle.

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When I opened the dryer, it was just like a wee rag doll.

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I just pulled him out and I just started throwing water over him

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cos he was just roasting.

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At the same time, she rings Aaron.

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I got a phone call from Gillian to say,

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"I need to take Riley to the hospital quick.

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"I've just pulled him out of the tumble dryer."

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I sort of thought, "Sorry?" You know, "What?"

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I said, "I'll be there in 30 seconds."

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Aaron races home to find Gillian throwing cold water over

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Riley at the kitchen sink.

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I could see the swelling around the forehead.

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I just thought, "We need to get plenty of cold water onto this."

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I then lifted him and ran him straight up the stairs.

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Both me and him stripped and got him into the shower,

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but I could see more burns,

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I could see the bruising on his back, the burns on his back,

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the burns on his arm.

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All the while, Riley's still screaming.

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Just me and him plunged into the cold water.

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It was just frightening me

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cos it just looked as if he had just been run over.

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And he just looked terrible.

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I thought, "We need to phone the ambulance here."

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This is Aaron's call to the emergency services.

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PHONE RINGS

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Call handler Paul White can't quite believe what he's hearing.

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People getting trapped in things happens often,

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but not tumble dryers, I've never heard of anything like that before.

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The injuries we'd be worried about would be any damage to the head or

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any broken bones, anything from being thrown about in a tumble dryer,

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and also any burns from the tumble dryer being on.

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They had obviously suffered trauma from going round in it,

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so it does change how things are treated and how he was treated.

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Paul flags the family's call as a priority because of Riley's age.

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Paramedic Ian Wooley arrives at the house in record time.

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I've never received a call like that before,

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but we responded as quickly as we could,

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especially as it was a young child.

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We were hoping for the best but preparing for the worst on the way.

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But when Ian tries to check Riley over,

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the little boy is too distressed to be examined.

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He's not great, cos he's been in hospital so many times.

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I lifted his top up to show the paramedic some of the bruising and some of the burns.

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He knew it was quite severe and serious.

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There was burns to the arms, upper back and just above one of the eyes.

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But, honestly, my biggest concern would have been

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the throwing about in the drum of the tumble dryer,

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so I was more concerned about traumatic injuries,

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after having a look at the burns.

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Riley is unable to tell the paramedics

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or Mum and Dad what hurts.

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His parents are also concerned about his heart condition.

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We just feel that, you know, can his heart, you know,

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take something so traumatic? And you just don't know what's going on in his wee body.

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Riley is rushed to Ulster Hospital with his dad at his side,

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while Gillian arranges for the other children to be looked after.

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A team of emergency doctors

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and nurses are standing by to assess Riley's injuries.

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I've worked in A&E for over 20 years,

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and in all that time I've never heard of a call like this before.

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His head was covered in a multitude of small bumps,

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his whole scalp was covered, I'm sure there was 15 or 20 bumps.

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His back was covered with abrasions and marks

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over its entire surface.

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He had burns around the waistband of his back and he had

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burns to his left elbow as well.

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The concerns when we see that amount of external injury are what lies underneath as well.

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So, obviously, there is the potential for brain injury,

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brain bleeding, or indeed chest injury.

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A nurse distracts Riley with a teddy bear,

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while doctors examine him.

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By the time Gillian arrives, it's all looking more positive.

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He's playing with one of the nurses, throwing a teddy back and forth.

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So it was, like, huge relief. But even seeing him sitting there

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covered in bruises, burns,

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you're just...your heart just melts for him, like.

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X-rays and scans reveal no internal injuries.

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Mum and Dad's quick thinking prevented the burns

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from being more serious.

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Dad had taken him straight to the shower, which was a really clever thing for him to do,

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because cooling burns down early is

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paramount to stopping the ongoing burning process.

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These machines are a closed box, you can suffocate inside them.

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And if you don't do that you can tumble and turn

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until you receive such severe injuries that they can kill you.

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Riley remains in hospital for two days, and is then allowed back home.

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He was straight down the hall and into his playroom.

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Just all his own wee stuff, he was just... You could tell that he was just glad to be home.

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Gillian now keeps the utility room locked,

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but one member of the family gets the complete run of the rest of the house.

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Teddy would have normally been outside,

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but that particular day it was raining and,

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you know, it's scenarios like that where if he had been outside

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Riley wouldn't have survived.

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A couple more minutes in the machine and he wouldn't be here today.

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It doesn't bear thinking about.

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That's a story that will make mums and dads everywhere

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more than a bit concerned, but what a lovely family.

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Now a tale about two brothers whose day out on the slopes

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took a terrifying turn when one completely vanished.

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Saas Fee in the Swiss Alps.

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Two brothers from England are scouting for filming locations

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on the ski slopes.

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One is recording as they tackle

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a challenging off-piste run on a glacier.

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He thinks he's planned his route to avoid cracks in the ice.

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But, suddenly, the snow gives way beneath him.

0:20:260:20:29

He plunges 60ft below the surface.

0:20:320:20:35

Jamie and Jack Mulmer grew up in the quiet village of Bearsted in Kent.

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But it's the mountains of Switzerland they now mostly call home.

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Started skiing when I was a kid, when my parents started taking us on family holidays.

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And my parents had always skied as kids, so

0:21:020:21:06

they wanted to pass that on to us.

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And they did.

0:21:080:21:10

So much so that the siblings have turned their passion into a business.

0:21:100:21:14

They've moved to the resort of Saas Fee in Switzerland,

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and started a company making promotional videos for hotels and chalets.

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It was 24-year-old Jack who came up with the idea,

0:21:220:21:25

but when it began to take off, he recruited older brother Jamie to help.

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Having my brother as the person I work with makes life very easy,

0:21:300:21:36

there's never any arguments.

0:21:360:21:38

I am completely happy to admit that he is the boss of our company.

0:21:380:21:42

Um, most of the time I do what he says.

0:21:420:21:47

It's early December, the start of the winter season,

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and the brothers are anxious to get out on the slopes to recce some new locations for filming.

0:21:520:21:56

They start out on the Feegletscher glacier,

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skiing off-piste at three and a half thousand metres above sea level,

0:21:590:22:03

accompanied by friends.

0:22:030:22:05

Jamie is recording on his helmet camera,

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as they gather at the top of an infamous run.

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It's known as Make Or Break,

0:22:120:22:15

because if you don't make it

0:22:150:22:18

then you break it.

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The brothers are experienced enough to know the dangers to look out for.

0:22:210:22:25

There are giant cracks on the ice alongside the run.

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Before he sets off, the hazards are playing on Jamie's mind.

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Younger brother Jack heads down the piste with two friends.

0:22:390:22:42

Jamie sets off a minute later. He can see a crevasse up ahead

0:22:440:22:48

and is confident he's chosen the right route to avoid it.

0:22:480:22:51

There's always a channel, slightly to the right of the middle of the face,

0:22:510:22:56

which everyone skis through.

0:22:560:22:58

That was what I was aiming for.

0:22:580:23:00

By now, brother Jack has reached the bottom of the run.

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So we watched Jamie drop in, he was coming down the face.

0:23:040:23:07

He was going relatively quick.

0:23:070:23:09

But when Jamie skis over a ridge, he realises, to his horror,

0:23:100:23:14

the crevasse is much closer than he thought.

0:23:140:23:17

I started to see the dip of the crevasse,

0:23:180:23:22

um, and that's probably about where you hear me groaning.

0:23:220:23:27

HE GROANS

0:23:270:23:29

Because I realised that I need to get a lot further right.

0:23:290:23:33

He desperately tries to avoid the opening in the ice,

0:23:340:23:37

then suddenly the snow gives way beneath him

0:23:370:23:40

and he plunges straight into it.

0:23:400:23:43

And I kind of flipped over backwards,

0:23:470:23:50

quite a horrible feeling. I kept falling down and I started sort of tumbling,

0:23:500:23:56

I was sort of flipping down, sort of head over heels

0:23:560:23:59

and bouncing off of ledges.

0:23:590:24:01

You kind of hold your arms out and stuff, but it's completely in vain

0:24:020:24:06

because there's nothing to hold on to.

0:24:060:24:08

It was like a nightmare, really, I just thought, "Ah, this is going to be a pretty horrible way to die."

0:24:100:24:17

Eventually, Jamie stops falling,

0:24:170:24:20

landing on a ledge of snow.

0:24:200:24:22

The camera's red recording light reflects back into the lens.

0:24:220:24:26

Down in the ice, there's nothing but silence.

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When I finally did come to a stop,

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I think I was on my hands and knees.

0:24:340:24:37

At the bottom of the slope, Jack sees his brother vanish beneath the ice

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and fears for his life.

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There's always the chance that you can fall in one of those,

0:24:440:24:47

and then you don't come back out again.

0:24:470:24:49

It happens so quickly. There wasn't really any time to think.

0:24:490:24:53

60ft down, Jamie is recovering from the shock of the fall.

0:24:530:24:57

Took a second to look around me,

0:24:570:25:00

and gave myself, like, a pat down.

0:25:000:25:04

I sort of realised that I was OK.

0:25:040:25:06

The brothers both have radios, so he immediately calls Jack.

0:25:060:25:09

Having the radio was so good, because

0:25:180:25:21

when I was sort of speaking to Jack it was, uh... Yeah, it took my mind off things a bit.

0:25:210:25:27

Jamie clears the camera lens. His shot shows how far under the snow he is.

0:25:270:25:33

On the surface, Jack realises rescuing his brother isn't going to be easy.

0:25:430:25:48

They'll need help.

0:25:480:25:49

There wasn't really...

0:25:490:25:51

..any point in him trying to get out himself,

0:25:520:25:56

because it could have gone much worse, really,

0:25:560:25:58

so we just told him to stay put.

0:25:580:25:59

He hasn't much choice, but Jamie's worried the ledge he's on could give way.

0:25:590:26:03

To his right, the crevasse continues much deeper into the ice.

0:26:040:26:08

I could see down it, and it was just black down into that hole.

0:26:080:26:13

Then snow suddenly starts falling in on top of him.

0:26:130:26:17

I was quite worried about snow avalanching in and maybe burying me.

0:26:240:26:29

For another hour, an anxious Jamie stands balanced on the narrow snow ledge.

0:26:290:26:34

Then a rescue team reaches the crevasse.

0:26:340:26:37

There's helicopters flying around, there's paramedics all over the place.

0:26:370:26:42

For us, it was quite comforting knowing that there was lots of people around and stuff like that.

0:26:420:26:47

They throw a rope down to Jamie and he hooks himself on.

0:26:470:26:51

But ice ledges and overhangs are blocking his route to safety.

0:26:510:26:55

I kind of ended up swinging under an overhanging bit of ice.

0:27:000:27:04

If they had yanked me there they would have just, like, rammed me up into the top of this ice.

0:27:040:27:09

Jamie has to trust the team as they haul him up the ice walls,

0:27:130:27:17

and away from the void below.

0:27:170:27:19

It was quite intense, you were being pulled up

0:27:190:27:21

an almost vertical wall.

0:27:210:27:24

The camera captures one of his rescuers above.

0:27:240:27:27

Daylight and safety are now tantalisingly close.

0:27:270:27:30

There's no, like, "gently does it" when it comes to that,

0:27:300:27:32

it's just, like,

0:27:320:27:34

get you up, like.

0:27:340:27:36

Two minutes later, Jamie makes it to the surface.

0:27:360:27:40

His ordeal is over.

0:27:410:27:43

I was pretty happy to be, uh,

0:27:430:27:46

to be coming out over the top.

0:27:460:27:48

Of course a feeling of relief when he popped out of there.

0:27:480:27:53

As Jamie emerges, a relieved Jack is there to greet him.

0:27:550:27:58

Yeah, there wasn't really, like, tears and crying and stuff,

0:28:020:28:05

you know, it was just, like...

0:28:050:28:07

.."Well done for surviving that, that was lucky.

0:28:080:28:11

"You're an idiot."

0:28:120:28:13

That's all from Close Calls today,

0:28:240:28:27

we'll see you next time.

0:28:270:28:28

A fishing trawler is sinking off the Shetland Islands, and one of the rescuers discovers his close friends are on board. Plus a little boy is trapped in a tumble dryer - the family's dog alerts his mum - and two brothers are on the Swiss ski slopes when one vanishes 60 feet down a crevasse.