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Emergency crews save man from icy death

By Hayley Robinson

A lorry driver has thanked a dog walker and the emergency services team who helped save him from an icy death.

Mike Ashton (pictured centre) collapsed in an orchard at Chilton Manor Farm, off Highsted Lane, Rodmersham, during the early hours of Saturday, December 4.

Despite sub-zero temperatures, the 59-year-old had set off on foot from his Medway depot just after 6am so he could get back to his partner Angie Ward, who was snowed in at their Kingsdown home and unable to pick him up.

He wore a T-shirt, boots, trousers and a warm jacket for the treacherous journey and took a small amount of water with him. But by the time Mr Ashton reached Sittingbourne he was suffering from dehydration, and when his body temperature dipped, he collapsed.

Had it not been for dog walker Nicola Kelly, who dialled 999 after she came across him at about 9am, and the actions of two police officers, he might not be alive today.

Mr Ashton said: "I think I owe my life to them."

Police community support officer Matthew Link and PC Nicki Hunt were first to arrive at the scene. PC Hunt could not find a pulse, but when she heard a very faint breath she knew he was still alive.

Remembering the advice she had been given while dealing with a potential exposure victim at the beginning of the year, PC Hunt started rubbing Mr
Ashton’s arms and legs to get his circulation going while Mr Link ran to a nearby house to ask for blankets. The officers then took off his wet coat and wrapped him in the blankets and a foil space blanket from their patrol car.

Mr Ashton was taken to Medway Maritime Hospital, where he was treated for exposure, exhaustion and dehydration. He is now back at home, looking forward to Christmas.

Recalling the harrowing incident, Mr Ashton said: "My body became heavy and I had tunnel vision and I really didn’t know where I was. The next thing I knew the police officers were rubbing me and keeping me warm.

"I can not thank these people enough. When I sat down and thought about the situation I only had to be a few yards off where I was and I wouldn’t have been found. It just goes to show how easy it is to be caught out."

The two police officers have been nominated for area commander’s awards for their part in the rescue.

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