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Injured Lowestoft fisherman recalls his life-changing accident on trawler

PUBLISHED: 06:45 29 December 2015

Injured fisherman Jeffery Melton who lost his left leg in a fishing accident out in The Wash.
 


Picture: James Bass

Injured fisherman Jeffery Melton who lost his left leg in a fishing accident out in The Wash. Picture: James Bass

(C) Archant Norfolk 2015

A fisherman has described the horrific moment he thought he was going to die after an accident on his trawler - and praised the amazing support he has had to help him recover.

Injured fisherman Jeffery Melton with  Keith Newberry (left) and John Beckett who organised a recent fishing industries reunion.Injured fisherman Jeffery Melton with Keith Newberry (left) and John Beckett who organised a recent fishing industries reunion.

Jeffery Melton, was alone fishing for shrimp in the Wash, near King’s Lynn, when his leg got trapped in the engine of his beam trawler The Serene Dawn (LT7).

The 54-year-old, from Lowestoft, was below deck in the fish room when the accident happened. Despite massive injuries, he was able to drag himself back to the wheelhouse, but was initially unable to call 999 on his mobile phone, due to a poor connection.

He was finally able to get through and summon help. Recalling his ordeal, he said: “The coastguard asked me what my position was and I said I can’t give that to you, I am laid on wheelhouse floor if I stand up I am going to die.”

The father of three and grandfather of 11 spent more than two months in hospital and needed 11 operations in four weeks, with doctors unable to save his left leg. Since the accident, he has been helped back to health by the region’s fishing community, with a reunion event held to raise money for him.

He said the accident had happened “in a flash”.

Mr Melton of Blyford Road, said: “I remember that I went down to the fish room and I had my oilies, a pair of boots and jogging bottoms on.

“I lifted the boards to have a look at the pump and next thing I know, I am looking at a piece of bone sticking out of my leg.

“It is a job I have done thousands of times, but somehow the bottom of my oilies got caught on one of the bolts sticking out and as the shaft was rotating at 200 revolutions a minute - you are not going to stop it.

“Literally in a flash I realised I was stuck and I couldn’t get up.”

Mr Melton realised he had to act quickly to alert the emergency services.

“I thought I have got to carry my own leg, up the fish room ladder, along the deck, and into the wheelhouse”, he added.

“I managed to flick the AIS tracking system on and I just laid on the wheelhouse floor.

“I picked my phone up before the pain hit me. I dialled 999 and it didn’t connect. I stopped it and redialled.

“Once I got through I said ‘can you send somebody to come and get me I have busted my leg’.

“They directed me to the coastguard and the helicopter came after about 45 minutes and the lifeboat came from Hunstanton.”

Mr Melton, who has a wife Tracey, also had the presence of mind to phone his friend Mark Freestone, based in Lynn, to come and save his boat which was still drifting.

Mr Melton was airlifted to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Lynn before being taken to Addenbrooke’s in Cambridge.

To show your support and to make a donation to Mr Melton, visit: www.justgiving.com/Fishermens-Mission

Have you shown solidarity to overcome an accident? Email: joe.randlesome@archant.co.uk

■ For the full story, pick up a copy of today’s EDP.

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