UK woman dropped into sea in botched rescue dies

AP News
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Posted: Apr 23, 2011 2:06 PM
UK woman dropped into sea in botched rescue dies

A 73-year-old British woman who was accidentally dropped into the Norwegian Sea as rescue workers took her off a cruise ship late last month has died, the hospital where she was treated said Saturday.

Janet Richardson fell ill while on a Scandinavian cruise and was being transferred to a rescue boat on March 29 when coast guard officers let her stretcher drop into the sea.

The woman spent four minutes treading water in the sea, which was just a few degrees above freezing at the time.

"It is with regret that Mrs. Janet Richardson passed away on Thursday evening," North Cumbria University Hospitals said in a statement. "Respecting the family's wishes we have no further comment at this time."

The botched rescue came on the eighth day of the cruise from Hull on the east coast of England. According to organizer Cruise and Maritime Voyages, Richardson began suffering from internal bleeding during the homeward leg of a two-week cruise on the Ocean Countess ship.

Her husband, retired farmer George Richardson, said she was suffering from dizziness and low blood pressure when the captain decided to transfer her to shore.

The great-grandmother was lowered about 25 feet (7.6 meters) to the rescue ship when the vessels suddenly moved apart and she fell into the water, he said.

Richardson had to stay in the water while rescue workers steered the coast guard boat away to avoid crushing her between the ships.

She was given mouth-to-mouth resuscitation on the rescue boat and spent a week in intensive care in Norway before being transferred to the Cumberland Infirmary in Carlisle, England.

Hans Skaar, head of the rescue department at Norwegian Sea Rescue, said the coast guard has completed the initial stages of an internal investigation. He said a report will likely be released in the next couple of weeks.

"We are very sorry for the loss of the family, and our thoughts went to the family when we heard about this tragic outcome," Skaar said.