Fundraiser Stuart Foulstone says he is lucky to be alive after being sucked into a whirlpool, being under water for almost three minutes during a white water raft challenge in Africa.
As time ran out Mr Foulstone, 45, did not think he would surface and in his mind had said goodbye to his wife and three children but, incredibly, he escaped.
Mr Foulstone’s near drowning happened as he and nine other members of the public were coming to the end of a four-day extreme white water rafting challenge on the Zambezi River in Africa.
They were negotiating the final rapid, Ghost Rider, a notorious grade five rapid involving three large waves.
Mr Foulstone, who was taking part in the challenge to raise money for Wiltshire Air Ambulance, and had trained for six months, was in the second raft.
Both rafts were turned upside down by the rapid. Everyone but Mr Foulstone was able to get to safety with the help of the guides accompanying them.
Mr Foulstone, a civil engineering consultant who lives in Roundway Village, said: “We were not quite square on and we were literally flipped over.
“I was under the raft and the water was very fast flowing and powerful. It has sub-currents and there was a whirlpool which sucked me straight down.”
He said: “I held my breath and I was expecting to bob up after 20 seconds but that didn’t happen. The water held me down and I was spinning. The situation became more desperate and I got to the point where my lungs started to become painful. It felt like it was a lifetime. I was thinking ‘don’t breathe in because you will take water into your lungs’.He was wearing buoyancy aids and held on to his wooden paddle hoping he would re-surface.
“My lungs felt like they were on fire and I just had to hold on and forget about the pain and keep that air in my lungs. I stopped trying to get to the surface to try and preserve the oxygen in my body but n From Page 1
it got to the point where I didn’t think I was going to get out and I said goodbye to Sandra and my children in my head.”
Mr Foulstone blacked out and he re-surfaced. The guides saw him lying face down in the water. He was unconscious and wasn’t breathing but his heart was still beating.
He was rescued, still clutching his paddle, and his next memory was being shouted at to open his eyes and to breathe.
He came round after five minutes and was told that he had been under the water for nearly three minutes. He did not need hospital treatment although when he returned to England he felt unwell and was prescribed antibiotics.
Since the incident, at the end of September, it took him several weeks to get his hearing back due to water in his ears and he took a week off work.
Mr Foulstone has nothing but praise for the company, Water By Nature, which ran the white water rafting adventure and said his near-death experience has not put him off white water rafting.
He said: “I couldn’t fault them at all. We were looked after superbly. The whole experience was really quite remarkable. I loved every second of it, regardless of what happened at the end.
“I was very unlucky to get sucked into a whirlpool but I was fortunate that it spat me out and the guides got to me in time. I think my fitness played a part, I trained for six months at St Mary’s sports gym in Calne.”
Source: Devizes fundraiser survives white water rafting drowning terror (28/11/13)