A mother and her two young children were dragged 100ft to safety by a helicopter as they clung to a tree stump while the River Ure rose rapidly around them.
A woman and her two daughters endured an ordeal lasting nearly two hours after becoming trapped in fast flowing water in the middle of the River Ure at Hackfall Woods, Grewelthorpe, at 2.30pm yesterday (Sunday).
Fire crews, water rescue teams and the RAF assembled to rescue the family, who entered the water when river levels seemed low.
But Saturday’s heavy rainfall meant the water levels were higher upstream, meaning the rising current quickly moved downstream to where the family were swimming.
Specialist water rescue crews from Ripon and Richmond were despatched to the scene, along with a crew from Masham and a water rescue officer. The rescue team called for extra support from an RAF Sea King helicopter, sent from RAF Leconfield, near Hull, due to fears the dangerous river levels would rise further.
The fire crews secured lines to ensure safe upstream and downstream water levels before the children were winched to safety by the helicopter at 4.10pm, and their mother was lifted from the island at 4.15pm.
A North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue service spokesman said although the rescue operation was a success “it could, however, have been a different story”.
“This should act as a warning to the dangers of rising river levels following a period of prolonged and heavy rainfall,” the spokesman said.
“As this incident shows open water may look inviting but the situation can quickly change.”
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