Rescuers honoured for saving Royal Estate worker who plunged into Queen’s lake at Sandringham

PUBLISHED: 15:14 07 January 2014 | UPDATED: 15:14 07 January 2014

Three rescuers are to be honoured after pulling a man to safety from a lake at Sandringham. Picture: Ian Burt

Three rescuers are to be honoured after pulling a man to safety from a lake at Sandringham. Picture: Ian Burt

Archant © 2012

Two Royal protection officers and the Queen’s head gardener are being honoured for saving the life of an estate worker they pulled from a lake at Sandringham.

Lee Abel, who is in his 30s, was cutting the grass with a ride-on mower when it plunged into the Lower Lake, near the estate offices, on July 8 last year.

It came to rest upside-down on top of Mr Abel, who lives on the estate, who was still strapped in the driver’s seat.

The drama happened half an hour after the Queen met members of the Welsh Corgi League at a private engagement in the nearby Walled Garden.

PCs Keith Hunt and Darren Wynne, and Martin Woods, Sandringham’s head gardener, went into the water and managed to turn the machine upright and drag it back onto the bank.

Mr Abel was airlifted to Addenbrookes Hospital, where his condition was described as critical in the hours after the the accident. He has since made a full recovery.

Now his rescuers are to receive Royal Humane Society testimonials on parchment and the two police are additionally to receive resuscitation certificates for their fight to revive him.

Dick Wilkinson, secretary of the Royal Humane Society, announced the awards this morning at its London headquarters this morning.

“It is little short of a miracle that the victim is alive today,” he said. “It was a horrific incident and but for the refusal of the police to give up their efforts to revive him after he had been dragged from the water he would never have survived.

“The mower driver was cutting grass when he lost control of the mower and it skidded down a grass bank and over a three foot drop into a lake.

“The driver was strapped on so could not throw himself clear and ended up under the machine with its weight on his head and neck.”

Mr Wilkinson said Mr Abel was under water for ten minutes before PCs Hunt and Wynne arrived.

“They jumped straight into the water and waded waist deep to the mower,” he said. “With the help of Martin Woods they righted it and pulled the man out.

“They then administering cardiac pulmonary resuscitation and used the defibrillator which they were carrying in their vehicle. They knew he had been under water for ten minutes but they persevered and, after the arrival of paramedics, they continued to assist.

“After some 20 minutes, a faint pulse was detected. He was taken to hospital, by air ambulance, where he was put in an induced coma.”

The accident was investigated by the Health and Safety Executive, which said it found no breaches of health and safety legislation.

The awards are expected to be presented in March.

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