Ten women rescued from River Wye in Herefordshire

Firefighters launched boats to rescue 10 women that were stranded on an island on the River Wye in Moccas.

Firefighters launched boats to rescue 10 women that were stranded on an island on the River Wye in Moccas.

First published in News
Last updated
Hereford Times: Photograph of the Author by , Deputy News Editor

TEN women who were taking part in an organised raft race ended up being rescued from an island in the middle of the River Wye in Herefordshire earlier this afternoon.

West Midlands Ambulance Service was called to the River Wye near Bye Cross in Moccas shortly after 1pm this afternoon.

Two ambulances, a paramedic area support officer and a Mercia Accident Rescue Service (MARS) BASICS doctor attended the scene.

Claire Brown, a West Midlands Ambulance Service press officer, said: “The 10 young women were taking part in a regatta when their raft collided with an island in the middle of the river and capsized. “The 10 women, who were wearing life jackets and fully equipped with safety gear, managed to swim to the small island to await rescue.

“Hereford and Worcester as well as Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Services used boats to rescue the marooned women from the island, two at a time, to a campsite further upstream.

“Ambulance crews and the doctor had set up a casualty clearing station in a barn on the campsite where they were able to assess the 10 women.

“Although they were a bit cold and wet from their ordeal, the women were uninjured and weren’t hypothermic. Once they’d had chance to warm up, the women were discharged from care by the doctor.

“The incident was an excellent example of good team work between emergency services.”

Comments (19)

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7:06pm Sat 24 May 14

tenor12 says...

Glad all are okay but no sense being there in weather like today . The emergency services have to risk their own lives because of stupid people who have no clue what they are doing
Glad all are okay but no sense being there in weather like today . The emergency services have to risk their own lives because of stupid people who have no clue what they are doing tenor12
  • Score: -21

9:08pm Sat 24 May 14

steveinleo says...

I'm glad to hear that everyone is safe and well after the incident. Very pleased to read that everyone was wearing life jackets.

We drove over the Grey Friars Bridge today and commented on how high and dirty looking the river was. I do have to ask if there was a proper risk assessment taken for the event to be given the go ahead.

Was there a rescue boat following the raft race? That is a pre-requisite for a sailing dinghy training session even on a lake with no natural flow.

I would of thought rafts from 5 gallon drums strapped together with rope pose a far more dangerous craft than any canoe or purpose built boat.

A big well done to our fire brigades, paramedics and rescue services for making sure everyone is safe and well. They do a fantastic job which all too often is taken for granted.

I wouldn't of been out today on the river even with full safety gear and a proper boat with an engine, and I have 46 years of boating knowledge in both power and sail boats.

It is far better to be safe rather than sorry. To delay an event because of adverse weather or river conditions is not chickening out. The event can be run another day quite easily and without disappointing people.

You're not remembered for the 99% when things go to plan it's the 1% when things go wrong that you're remembered for.
I'm glad to hear that everyone is safe and well after the incident. Very pleased to read that everyone was wearing life jackets. We drove over the Grey Friars Bridge today and commented on how high and dirty looking the river was. I do have to ask if there was a proper risk assessment taken for the event to be given the go ahead. Was there a rescue boat following the raft race? That is a pre-requisite for a sailing dinghy training session even on a lake with no natural flow. I would of thought rafts from 5 gallon drums strapped together with rope pose a far more dangerous craft than any canoe or purpose built boat. A big well done to our fire brigades, paramedics and rescue services for making sure everyone is safe and well. They do a fantastic job which all too often is taken for granted. I wouldn't of been out today on the river even with full safety gear and a proper boat with an engine, and I have 46 years of boating knowledge in both power and sail boats. It is far better to be safe rather than sorry. To delay an event because of adverse weather or river conditions is not chickening out. The event can be run another day quite easily and without disappointing people. You're not remembered for the 99% when things go to plan it's the 1% when things go wrong that you're remembered for. steveinleo
  • Score: -18

9:39pm Sat 24 May 14

vintagejo says...

tenor12 wrote:
Glad all are okay but no sense being there in weather like today . The emergency services have to risk their own lives because of stupid people who have no clue what they are doing
These women aren't stupid, they are experienced rafters who unfortunately had an accident. The organisers take safety incredibly seriously. In response to steveinleo the rafts are well built not strapped together with rope and there are safety boats out on the river but given the fact there were 10 women to rescue asap the decision was made to call the emergency services for their assistance.
[quote][p][bold]tenor12[/bold] wrote: Glad all are okay but no sense being there in weather like today . The emergency services have to risk their own lives because of stupid people who have no clue what they are doing[/p][/quote]These women aren't stupid, they are experienced rafters who unfortunately had an accident. The organisers take safety incredibly seriously. In response to steveinleo the rafts are well built not strapped together with rope and there are safety boats out on the river but given the fact there were 10 women to rescue asap the decision was made to call the emergency services for their assistance. vintagejo
  • Score: 23

10:04pm Sat 24 May 14

Marchfd says...

I must be honest, I find it remarkable when people who weren't there and have no idea of the circumstances can sit back and call others stupid. The crew on this raft have over a hundred years of paddling between them and are extremely experienced, this was an accident. There has always been a height limit for rafts on the Wye and the levels are still below that limit now. We passed a lot of kayaks on the river today who were in rented boats, they were frightened and had no experience at all, rafts are much more stable than these boats. The organisers had 3 of their own safety boats on the river today which is far more support than these people on the kayaks had. The emergency services are truly amazing and their organisation and response is incredible. We must remember that the people on these rafts are all doing this race to raise money for a local charity, not for any praise or reward.
I must be honest, I find it remarkable when people who weren't there and have no idea of the circumstances can sit back and call others stupid. The crew on this raft have over a hundred years of paddling between them and are extremely experienced, this was an accident. There has always been a height limit for rafts on the Wye and the levels are still below that limit now. We passed a lot of kayaks on the river today who were in rented boats, they were frightened and had no experience at all, rafts are much more stable than these boats. The organisers had 3 of their own safety boats on the river today which is far more support than these people on the kayaks had. The emergency services are truly amazing and their organisation and response is incredible. We must remember that the people on these rafts are all doing this race to raise money for a local charity, not for any praise or reward. Marchfd
  • Score: 30

10:11pm Sat 24 May 14

vintagejo says...

Thank you marchfd, someone talking sense, my sister was one of the women rescued so it made me so angry that they were called stupid, I've done many races and like you say the kayaks and canoes you pass on the river are more of a risk than our rafts.
Thank you marchfd, someone talking sense, my sister was one of the women rescued so it made me so angry that they were called stupid, I've done many races and like you say the kayaks and canoes you pass on the river are more of a risk than our rafts. vintagejo
  • Score: 25

2:39pm Mon 26 May 14

sueraft says...

I was one of those rescued - the lady steering the raft has completed the race safely 26 times. As well as raft racing I kayak, canoe and am a member of the GB senior dragon boat racing team. Everyone on the raft was a strong experienced paddler, several with international experience. We do the race for fun on our very sturdy and reliable craft which is also raced on the sea. The 5 gallon drums are purpose-made so that the rims interlock. This is a one-off accident and the fact that we were wearing buoyancy aids and carrying a throw line meant that we were able to stay in a safe place t await rescue. The raft race organiser's own safety boats were not suitable to carry out the rescue because of the strong flow which was why the decision was taken to call for professional help. I would like to stress that we did NOT all swim to the island - those who could safely remain on their seats did so. Only those who were immersed in the water and therefore at risk of hypothermia went across to a nearby tree to get out of the water. Two people had to swim a short distance but the other two on the island were able to wade safely having been thrown a line to hold on to. I have been trained in white water safety and rescue techniques. The raft race organisers called off the last 3 days as the water was continuing to rise. All paddling is a 'risk assumed activity', something that is obviously not well understood by those with nothing better to do than post the negative comments.
I was one of those rescued - the lady steering the raft has completed the race safely 26 times. As well as raft racing I kayak, canoe and am a member of the GB senior dragon boat racing team. Everyone on the raft was a strong experienced paddler, several with international experience. We do the race for fun on our very sturdy and reliable craft which is also raced on the sea. The 5 gallon drums are purpose-made so that the rims interlock. This is a one-off accident and the fact that we were wearing buoyancy aids and carrying a throw line meant that we were able to stay in a safe place t await rescue. The raft race organiser's own safety boats were not suitable to carry out the rescue because of the strong flow which was why the decision was taken to call for professional help. I would like to stress that we did NOT all swim to the island - those who could safely remain on their seats did so. Only those who were immersed in the water and therefore at risk of hypothermia went across to a nearby tree to get out of the water. Two people had to swim a short distance but the other two on the island were able to wade safely having been thrown a line to hold on to. I have been trained in white water safety and rescue techniques. The raft race organisers called off the last 3 days as the water was continuing to rise. All paddling is a 'risk assumed activity', something that is obviously not well understood by those with nothing better to do than post the negative comments. sueraft
  • Score: 35

11:36am Tue 27 May 14

TriciaHfds says...

The CHAR River Wye charity raft race has been running for 36 years, involving thousands of Herefordians and people from around the country. For the past 32 years I have been the organiser along with a committee. This event has raised directly and indirectly over four million pounds for charities.
We always have a Method Statement and Risk Assessments for each part of the race, we carry fully comprehensive public liability insurance and the rafts are built to stringent Rules and Regulations to be able to withstand the rigours of the River Wye.
This is the first time in the history of the raft race that I have had to dial 999!
The CHAR River Wye charity raft race has been running for 36 years, involving thousands of Herefordians and people from around the country. For the past 32 years I have been the organiser along with a committee. This event has raised directly and indirectly over four million pounds for charities. We always have a Method Statement and Risk Assessments for each part of the race, we carry fully comprehensive public liability insurance and the rafts are built to stringent Rules and Regulations to be able to withstand the rigours of the River Wye. This is the first time in the history of the raft race that I have had to dial 999! TriciaHfds
  • Score: 21

11:45am Tue 27 May 14

TriciaHfds says...

The CHAR RIVER WYE CHARITY RAFT RACE is now 36 years old, I have been the main organiser along with a committee for 32 years. Many thousands of Herefordians have taken part in this event over the years along with entrants from all over the country as well as teams from Johannesburg, Germany, France and Holland! The raft races have raised directly and indirectly over four million pounds for charities!
The rafts are built to stringent Rules and Regulations to withstand the rigours of the River Wye and to cope with the 3 main elements of rafting which is people, water and home made craft - they are not 40 gallon barrels strapped together with string!
The organisation has a Method Statement, detailed risk assessments and a fully comprehensive public liability insurance and river safety boats.
I think it is important that I point out that we have a superb safety record and that this is the first time in the history of the race that i have had to dial 999 for a river related incident!
The CHAR RIVER WYE CHARITY RAFT RACE is now 36 years old, I have been the main organiser along with a committee for 32 years. Many thousands of Herefordians have taken part in this event over the years along with entrants from all over the country as well as teams from Johannesburg, Germany, France and Holland! The raft races have raised directly and indirectly over four million pounds for charities! The rafts are built to stringent Rules and Regulations to withstand the rigours of the River Wye and to cope with the 3 main elements of rafting which is people, water and home made craft - they are not 40 gallon barrels strapped together with string! The organisation has a Method Statement, detailed risk assessments and a fully comprehensive public liability insurance and river safety boats. I think it is important that I point out that we have a superb safety record and that this is the first time in the history of the race that i have had to dial 999 for a river related incident! TriciaHfds
  • Score: 22

12:47pm Tue 27 May 14

Villanick says...

The Emergency Services deserve thanks every time they attend an incident. They are highly skilled, highly trained, dedicated individuals. It is highly likely that we will rely, or already have relied on them, at some point in our lives - either directly ourselves or indirectly if friends and families are involved. So I find the comment above that "they are putting their lives at risk" to be quite offensive to them. There is obvioulsy an element of danger in what they do, but they know what they are doing. With the exception of certain individuals such as arsonists, no-one sets out to cause an incident which calls upon our emergency services. This was an accident. Like it or not, they happen to us all.

Talking of "knowing what they are doing", it is also quite apparent from the comments above that the raft team involved also know what they are doing - just look at the list of experience from the one post! The organisers are also obvioulsy experienced with many years knowledge.

It's very easy to point fingers and make accusations, but it's best to have all the facts to hand first before making rash statements.

Glad to hear that everyone is okay, that's the main thing. I hope this doesn't put people off using the Wye nor organising events on it. We recently enjoyed the Hereford River Festival which encouraged just such activities.
The Emergency Services deserve thanks every time they attend an incident. They are highly skilled, highly trained, dedicated individuals. It is highly likely that we will rely, or already have relied on them, at some point in our lives - either directly ourselves or indirectly if friends and families are involved. So I find the comment above that "they are putting their lives at risk" to be quite offensive to them. There is obvioulsy an element of danger in what they do, but they know what they are doing. With the exception of certain individuals such as arsonists, no-one sets out to cause an incident which calls upon our emergency services. This was an accident. Like it or not, they happen to us all. Talking of "knowing what they are doing", it is also quite apparent from the comments above that the raft team involved also know what they are doing - just look at the list of experience from the one post! The organisers are also obvioulsy experienced with many years knowledge. It's very easy to point fingers and make accusations, but it's best to have all the facts to hand first before making rash statements. Glad to hear that everyone is okay, that's the main thing. I hope this doesn't put people off using the Wye nor organising events on it. We recently enjoyed the Hereford River Festival which encouraged just such activities. Villanick
  • Score: 20

1:23pm Tue 27 May 14

jules2411 says...

Badgers Paddlers enjoyed day 1 of race and the right decision was made to cancel as safety is paramount..All teams are trained and have the safety equipment required and rafts made to safety rules..Well done Trish and team..See you next Year..
Badgers Paddlers enjoyed day 1 of race and the right decision was made to cancel as safety is paramount..All teams are trained and have the safety equipment required and rafts made to safety rules..Well done Trish and team..See you next Year.. jules2411
  • Score: 14

1:26pm Tue 27 May 14

Sparker1983 says...

I am shocked and disappointed by some of the comments listed above in relation to what has been an amazing local fundraising event for over 3 decades. As a fellow rafter I can assure those who refer to us as stupid that we take the safety of crew, organisers and supporters throughout any races very seriously and would never paddle a race without all precautions regarding safety being taken in to account. Unfortunately accidents do happen. As a witness to the incident on Saturday I can assure everyone that the response of ALL involved ensured the ladies were safely out of the water as quickly as possible. We should be commending everyone involved rather than criticising the race.
I am shocked and disappointed by some of the comments listed above in relation to what has been an amazing local fundraising event for over 3 decades. As a fellow rafter I can assure those who refer to us as stupid that we take the safety of crew, organisers and supporters throughout any races very seriously and would never paddle a race without all precautions regarding safety being taken in to account. Unfortunately accidents do happen. As a witness to the incident on Saturday I can assure everyone that the response of ALL involved ensured the ladies were safely out of the water as quickly as possible. We should be commending everyone involved rather than criticising the race. Sparker1983
  • Score: 14

2:23pm Tue 27 May 14

tutordazz says...

CHAR takes the health and safety very seriously and this race is now in it's 4th decade of running. All of the organisational team are experienced in dealing with rafters new and experienced. In this instance the team were well used to the river and experienced in paddling in all conditions. This incident was just one of those unfortunate accidents which was quickly resolved by members of CHAR and the local rescue services who pulled together to act accordingly. This is an event which has been supported locally and nationally over the years and has raised some several million pounds for good causes in it's history. The good community feeling of taking part and supporting this race should be encouraged and any teams wishing to take part would be welcomed! The weekend itself is a lot of fun with a lot of hard work put in by the teams and the organisers to ensure it is the best it can be!
This isolated incident which was purely accidental should not be allowed to tar such a great and much enjoyed event!
CHAR takes the health and safety very seriously and this race is now in it's 4th decade of running. All of the organisational team are experienced in dealing with rafters new and experienced. In this instance the team were well used to the river and experienced in paddling in all conditions. This incident was just one of those unfortunate accidents which was quickly resolved by members of CHAR and the local rescue services who pulled together to act accordingly. This is an event which has been supported locally and nationally over the years and has raised some several million pounds for good causes in it's history. The good community feeling of taking part and supporting this race should be encouraged and any teams wishing to take part would be welcomed! The weekend itself is a lot of fun with a lot of hard work put in by the teams and the organisers to ensure it is the best it can be! This isolated incident which was purely accidental should not be allowed to tar such a great and much enjoyed event! tutordazz
  • Score: 11

5:27pm Tue 27 May 14

DavidM363 says...

The negative comments are just a wind-up, there are trolls lurking under every bridge . . . no need to protest too much. Driving a raft down the Wye (and in training, back up again) is an experience not to be missed, everyone should try it if they can.
The negative comments are just a wind-up, there are trolls lurking under every bridge . . . no need to protest too much. Driving a raft down the Wye (and in training, back up again) is an experience not to be missed, everyone should try it if they can. DavidM363
  • Score: 12

5:41pm Tue 27 May 14

GritRafter says...

I have been participating in this race for over 10 years now and at no point have I felt that it has been run in dangerous conditions.

There are a number of rules set in place by CHAR that all rafters have to accept whether we are racing or training. Firstly, we always wear buoyancy aids, despite passing other river users not as equally encumbered by them. Secondly, there are river levels that are set above which we may not get onto the river.

River safety boats are always present on the races, it just so happens that this accident occurred in one of the few places on that stretch of the river where anything but the most powerful of outboards would not be able to cope with the current.

The rafts themselves are very robust and very stable. My wife is unable to swim but is confident enough on the raft build to paddle them on the sea in the Minehead event. They all have steering and are generally crewed with people who have trained for months and are very used to the river.

The last two days of this race were cancelled due to the high river conditions. The race organisers could easily have allowed the rafters to go ahead as many of us, particularly after all the work and training, would have been happy to go ahead. Cancelling the race early would undoubtedly have a financial impact on the charity and it would have been easy to ignore the safety concerns and concentrate solely on the financial ones. However CHAR decided that the river levels were too high to be safe to go ahead, a decision that was wise and correct. Thank you CHAR, I for one will be back next year.
I have been participating in this race for over 10 years now and at no point have I felt that it has been run in dangerous conditions. There are a number of rules set in place by CHAR that all rafters have to accept whether we are racing or training. Firstly, we always wear buoyancy aids, despite passing other river users not as equally encumbered by them. Secondly, there are river levels that are set above which we may not get onto the river. River safety boats are always present on the races, it just so happens that this accident occurred in one of the few places on that stretch of the river where anything but the most powerful of outboards would not be able to cope with the current. The rafts themselves are very robust and very stable. My wife is unable to swim but is confident enough on the raft build to paddle them on the sea in the Minehead event. They all have steering and are generally crewed with people who have trained for months and are very used to the river. The last two days of this race were cancelled due to the high river conditions. The race organisers could easily have allowed the rafters to go ahead as many of us, particularly after all the work and training, would have been happy to go ahead. Cancelling the race early would undoubtedly have a financial impact on the charity and it would have been easy to ignore the safety concerns and concentrate solely on the financial ones. However CHAR decided that the river levels were too high to be safe to go ahead, a decision that was wise and correct. Thank you CHAR, I for one will be back next year. GritRafter
  • Score: 12

7:45pm Tue 27 May 14

Ian2268 says...

Having completed the race many yrs back while in the army and no having trained with the team that finished 3rd on the day in question I can only reiterate that safety is of the paramount importance, this yr i was working as back up on Saturday for MADSAT, the team train hard for this event and I know from experience that the raft is not some old used oil drums from a chippy put together with string, the drums are as stated purpose built and the raft constructed with safety in mind.
Silly people who sit in their armchair and participate in armchair sports should check facts before spouting rubbish.
Having completed the race many yrs back while in the army and no having trained with the team that finished 3rd on the day in question I can only reiterate that safety is of the paramount importance, this yr i was working as back up on Saturday for MADSAT, the team train hard for this event and I know from experience that the raft is not some old used oil drums from a chippy put together with string, the drums are as stated purpose built and the raft constructed with safety in mind. Silly people who sit in their armchair and participate in armchair sports should check facts before spouting rubbish. Ian2268
  • Score: 9

10:30am Wed 28 May 14

mizza21 says...

Well, I have no experience of boating or rafting and am singularly unqualified to comment on this.
I don't know the river Wye very well enough to comment on currents or levels and whether this stretch is any more dangerous than any other.

I won't let that stop me though.

I say well done to folk for getting off their behinds and getting out and doing something. There's an element of risk in everything. Don't let that stop you though. Get out there take risks people. That's called living.

If, in over 30 years of taking risks, you've only had to call the fire bobbies once you are obviously taking responsibility too.
Well done and can I play next year? (I can swim a length of the swimming pool in Hereford without being sick)
Well, I have no experience of boating or rafting and am singularly unqualified to comment on this. I don't know the river Wye very well enough to comment on currents or levels and whether this stretch is any more dangerous than any other. I won't let that stop me though. I say well done to folk for getting off their behinds and getting out and doing something. There's an element of risk in everything. Don't let that stop you though. Get out there take risks people. That's called living. If, in over 30 years of taking risks, you've only had to call the fire bobbies once you are obviously taking responsibility too. Well done and can I play next year? (I can swim a length of the swimming pool in Hereford without being sick) mizza21
  • Score: 9

10:42am Wed 28 May 14

Sparker1983 says...

Mizza21,
There's a seat on our raft for you anytime!
Mizza21, There's a seat on our raft for you anytime! Sparker1983
  • Score: 6

3:33pm Wed 28 May 14

GritRafter says...

mizza21 wrote:
Well, I have no experience of boating or rafting and am singularly unqualified to comment on this.
I don't know the river Wye very well enough to comment on currents or levels and whether this stretch is any more dangerous than any other.

I won't let that stop me though.

I say well done to folk for getting off their behinds and getting out and doing something. There's an element of risk in everything. Don't let that stop you though. Get out there take risks people. That's called living.

If, in over 30 years of taking risks, you've only had to call the fire bobbies once you are obviously taking responsibility too.
Well done and can I play next year? (I can swim a length of the swimming pool in Hereford without being sick)
Mizza21, I'll echo Sparker's invitation. We can always find seats for enthusiastic paddlers or if you can find other people with a similar mind then there are teams around with spare rafts who can help you train/race.

The annual raft race is a fantastic event with a great mix of physical effort and fun in the beer tent afterwards. Please do come down.
[quote][p][bold]mizza21[/bold] wrote: Well, I have no experience of boating or rafting and am singularly unqualified to comment on this. I don't know the river Wye very well enough to comment on currents or levels and whether this stretch is any more dangerous than any other. I won't let that stop me though. I say well done to folk for getting off their behinds and getting out and doing something. There's an element of risk in everything. Don't let that stop you though. Get out there take risks people. That's called living. If, in over 30 years of taking risks, you've only had to call the fire bobbies once you are obviously taking responsibility too. Well done and can I play next year? (I can swim a length of the swimming pool in Hereford without being sick)[/p][/quote]Mizza21, I'll echo Sparker's invitation. We can always find seats for enthusiastic paddlers or if you can find other people with a similar mind then there are teams around with spare rafts who can help you train/race. The annual raft race is a fantastic event with a great mix of physical effort and fun in the beer tent afterwards. Please do come down. GritRafter
  • Score: 3

5:05pm Wed 28 May 14

mizza21 says...

What a lovely friendly bunch.
I may well pop down in nought but a mankini (google it, but not at work, if you don't know what one is)
What a lovely friendly bunch. I may well pop down in nought but a mankini (google it, but not at work, if you don't know what one is) mizza21
  • Score: 3

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