Woman may have jumped in water in Hayling Island after 'mistaking seal for a person'

A WOMAN who was pulled out of the water off Hayling Island yesterday may have jumped in after seeing what could have been a seal.

Sunday, 15th December 2019, 2:12 pm
Updated Sunday, 15th December 2019, 5:43 pm

Emergency services were scrambled to Langstone Bridge on Saturday after reports of a woman in the water.

Reports had emerged of a second person being searched for, but coastguard and police crews have not been seen in the area on Sunday.

Members of Langstone Sailing Club believe the second person may actually have just been a seal.

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Langstone Bridge, Hayling Island

John Bassford, 68 from Waterlooville, is a member of the sailing club.

He said: ‘We have no idea if there was a second person or not.

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‘It’s likely that it could have been a seal that she saw because we have a lot of them around here and they’re not too dissimilar to human heads when you see them bobbing in the water.’

After seeing the woman in the water, club members Peter Munday and Stewart Johnson sailed out in the club’s launch, Mylor, to rescue her.

Richard Taylor, 64 from Emsworth, was also at the club when the incident happened.

He said: ‘When Peter and Stewart got her out of the water, she was very cold but was able to walk to the ambulance.

‘She was in the ambulance for around 45 minutes before they took her to hospital - they were worried about secondary drowning.’

The Pride of Hayling ferry service was suspended from 2pm to 3:30pm on Saturday as the passenger boat was used to help the search operation.

Crew members have attended more than 10 boats adrift and in danger of being carried out of the harbour over the last three years, as well as recusing a man who had fallen out of his dingy in 2017, according to ferry Skipper Colin Hill.

He said: ‘We don’t rescue someone every day, but it’s not a once in a lifetime event

‘It’s drilled into us by the coast guard - don’t jump into the water.

‘If you see someone in the water, keep an eye on them and get as many people as possible to point at them. It’s so easy to lose sight of someone in the water.’

The skipper said the rescued woman may have mistaken a seal for a person in trouble.

He added: ‘They really can look like people when they have just their head above the waves.’