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Fisherman's Swale ordeal

Paul Ions who was rescued from the banks of the Swale
Paul Ions who was rescued from the banks of the Swale

by Emma Grove

Coastguards mounted an early-morning rescue after a fisherman got caught by the incoming tide.

Paul Ions, had to strip to his underwear and swim after his trip to the Swale Estuary went badly wrong.

The 22-year-old had been dropped off by his mum at about 9pm on Tuesday and made his way out to one of the little islands.

After setting up and catching a few fish, the McDonald's worker suddenly realised the tide was coming in and he was cut off.

He stripped and managed to swim back to the bank at about 2.30am where he phoned the coastguard saying he needed help because his fishing equipment was stranded on the island and he was near naked, cold and wet.

He said: "It was scary, I couldn't call anyone from the island to tell them I was in trouble. It was very, very cold."

Sheppey Coastguard and an RAF rescue helicopter from Wattisham went to the scene but lost contact with him and worried he had drowned while attempting to retrieve his equipment.

But back on the bank, a disorientated Mr Ions had settled down to try and keep himself warm by getting into his sleeping bag.

The rescuers were searching south of the Kingsferry Bridge, near to Ridham Docks, but Mr Ions was eventually located ashore north of the bridge at about 4.30am.

He was checked over by a paramedic and driven home by his mum, who had come to assist police with the search as she had clearer information on where her son had gone fishing.

Mr Ions, of Brier Road, Sittingbourne, said: "I would like to thank all of the coastguard and rescue people.

"They are brilliant at what they do and as soon as they knew where I was they found me pretty quick.

"It hasn't put me off fishing, it was just one ordeal that happened."

Coastguard rescue officer Ian Goodwin said: "His phone was dead so we thought he had swum back to retrieve his kit.

"He had already told us he wasn't a good swimmer and was cold and wet.

"When you go out at night-time you must check the tide conditions and don't enter the water or try to swim against the tide.

"This could easily have had very tragic consequences. After two hours I thought we were going to be retrieving a body."

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