Thursday, April 21, 2011

Elderly Woman Falls Into Frigid Arctic Ocean During Botched Rescue

Janet Richardson, 73, of Cumbria, England, has been in intensive care since she was dropped into the Arctic Ocean during a rescue from a cruise ship on March 28. Janet and her husband, George, were on the ninth day of a 13-night coastal tour of Norway when she became dizzy and began to suffer with internal bleeding. Her situation was dire that the ship decided she needed to be taken to a hospital at once.
She was being transferred by stretcher to a smaller craft when those holding the stretcher lost their grip as the two vessels drifted apart. The mother of three plunged into the water and was watched by fellow passengers flailing around before being rescued a second time. Mr Richardson, a retired farmer, said: “There were six men on the stretcher but it went down and then Janet slipped into the sea. I just saw the end of the stretcher go in. It was very traumatic to see her fall into the sea. I thought I was going to lose her. I wasn't certain at all what was happening as she'd gone out of sight.” Mrs Richardson was taken to hospital in Bodo, Norway, and transferred to Cumberland Infirmary in Carlisle. Doctors are trying to work out how much of her current condition has been caused by her time in the water, and how much is due to underlying health problems. Mrs Richardson suffers from diabetes and a kidney problem. Doctors have carried out heart and brain scans which appeared to be clear. Her husband said he was concerned about why the ship had decided to undertake such a risky operation. "If they had wanted to be totally safe they could have gone into port, which would have made things safer,” he said. "They could have held the lifeboat to the ship with a rope or something. They were reluctant to go into port because they were already running late and it would have cost extra expense and caused further delays. I just hope lessons will be learnt because I wouldn't want anyone else to have to go through it." Cruise and Maritime Voyages, which operates the Ocean Countess, said an investigation was underway. A spokesman said: “The incident is subject to an ongoing formal investigation by the ship owners and Norwegian rescue authorities. Cruise and Maritime Voyages, the cruise operators, have been assured that the incident is being fully investigated to establish how the accident occurred."
According to her husband, Janet received mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and was sedated after spending at least four minutes in the sub-zero temperatures. Doctors fear she could spend weeks if not months in their care and may never fully recover. Poor lady.

Update, April 22: Janet has died. In a statement, the Cumbria University Hospitals hospital said, "It is with regret that Mrs. Janet Richardson passed away on Thursday evening. Respecting the family's wishes we have no further comment at this time."
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