A FISHERMAN had to be winched to safety by an RAF helicopter after his right foot was partially severed in a horror accident on his boat.
The 69-year-old man, from Lytham, was attempting to fix a problem with the boat’s engine when his foot became entangled in the vessel’s revolving crank shaft, just above his ankle.
He is now in hospital where doctors are battling to save his foot.
The skipper was fishing from his 16ft boat Lazy Days in the middle of the River Ribble estuary four miles south west of St Annes when one of his legs became trapped.
Two fishermen from a nearby vessel rushed to his aid and tried to stem the bleeding.
They also called the Coastguard who sent two lifeboats from Lytham and Southport to help the man, whose leg had become entangled around the revolving shaft that takes power from the engine to the propeller.
The terrifying incident happened around noon on Wednesday.
Lytham St Annes RNLI volunteer Pete Whalley said: “When the crews arrived they found the casualty distressed and in great pain.
“It seems the shaft didn’t have anything covering it to protect him.”
The Lifeboat crews gave the man first aid and pain relief gas while trying to free the trapped leg, before the rescue helicopter from RAF Valley arrived from its base in Anglesey.
A winchman from the helicopter, who is a trained paramedic, was then lowered onto the skipper’s boat.
The rescuers had to remove the driveshaft from the vessel to release the man’s leg before he was taken aboard the helicopter and flown to Royal Preston Hospital to be treated for his injury.
Liverpool Coastguard watch manager Su Daintith said: “The skipper of the vessel was extremely lucky.
“Although his foot was almost severed, the crew from the accompanying vessel managed to stop the bleeding and take instruction from the doctor via their mobile phone.
“He was in Preston Hospital less than an hour and a quarter after the accident.”
The skipper’s boat was towed back to a mooring in Lytham by an RNLI lifeboat.
Andrew Fallow, LSA lifeboat operations manager, said “Care should always be taken around moving parts on a boat.
“If at all possible these should be covered to prevent accidents from happening.”