A Royal Marine from Shropshire has saved the life of a sailor in a dramatic night-time sea rescue that saw him lowered into 40ft waves to haul the injured man to safety.
Corporal Justin Morgan, 32, who is originally from Harlescott Grange in Shrewsbury, carried out the daring rescue last week while 70 miles out at sea off the Cornish coast shortly before 8pm last Wednesday.
The four-man team from 771 Naval Air Squadron was called out from its base at the Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose in Cornwall following reports of a lone sailor in difficulty.
The man had slipped over while trying to fix his masts and rigging on his 20ft yacht and had injured his ankle. When he managed to draw attention by lighting a flare, Corporal Morgan and his team sprung into action.
They lowered a hi-line towards the man so Corporal Morgan could join him on deck and take him to safety. But in the sailor’s desperation to escape, he tied the hi-line around himself and jumped into the water. Afghanistan veteran Corporal Morgan then had to be lowered down into the sea to rescue the man.
The Marine, a former pupil at The Grange School, who hit the headlines in April when he played a key role in the rescue of a tourist who had become stranded on a cliff on the Cornish coast, said today: “The sailor was so desperate to get off the yacht that he tied the hi-line around his waist and jumped into the water.
“I knew I couldn’t let go of the 200ft rope, even though it was very heavy, or we would lose the sailor. It was really difficult to pull him towards me though due to the extremely high waves.
He managed to get the strap around the sailor so the helicopter crew could winch him to safety. “But the 200ft rope was tangled all around us, so I had to cut this from us first.”
The casualty, who has not been named, was taken to Royal Cornwall Hospital following the incident.
Corporal Morgan’s mother Nadine, 52, who lives in Sundorne, Shrewsbury, said: “I haven’t managed to speak to him in person yet but I’ve sent him texts saying how proud we are of him and it’s just so typical of him. He’s such a gallant man and does seem to always stick his neck out for people.”