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Cyclist swept down flooded river rescued – thanks to his Apple Watch

Rider dialled 999 as he clung onto tree branch in River Wye for 20 minutes

A cyclist who was swept along a flooded river in Hereford for a mile was rescued last Thursday thanks to being able to call 999 on his Apple Watch.

The rider managed to cling onto the branch of a tree in the swollen River Wye before calling the emergency services, reports BBC Hereford and Worcester.

Station Commander Sean Bailey of Hereford and Worcester Fire and Rescue Service said: “We're very surprised he didn't lose his grip.”

He said that the cyclist, whom he described as “lucky” after surviving being swept into the fast-flowing river, had been seen by passers-by who managed to give emergency personnel an idea of where he was located.

“Even with that location it still took us 20 minutes to locate him and rescue him and bring him to safety,” said Station Commander Bailey.

“He was speaking to our fire control whilst he was clinging onto a tree, via his Apple watch, which worked wonderfully well for us to actually get to him as quickly as possible.

"Our guys are very well trained for this sort of event, but we can't replicate those situations, the high river levels that you get when it's in full flood,” he continued.

“He is a very lucky man to have been able to get hold of a branch and then spend probably 20 minutes in the water whilst he's clinging onto that branch, we're very surprised he didn't lose his grip.

“It's one of those things where your natural instincts, adrenalin, kicks in in order to be rescued.”

There was no report of the fate of the rider’s bicycle.

Two years ago, we reported how a rider in the United States who was knocked unconscious in a fall from his bike was found after his Apple Watch detected a ‘Hard Fall’ and automatically notified his family and the emergency services.

Another tech-enabled rescue made the headlines in 2018 when Trek-Segafredo sports director Steven De Jongh was knocked out following a crash on a training ride in Spain.

His wife, Renée Meijer, posted on Twitter that he had gone missing, along with details of his last known location according to his Strava activity log and he was found later that day and taken to hospital for treatment.

  • Do you know of a cyclist who has been rescued thanks to a tech device or an app such as What 3 Words, or has it happened to you? Let us know in the comments below.

Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.

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