FIREFIGHTERS are warning people about the dangers of playing in water after a boy got into trouble in the River Lavant.
West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service was called to the stretch of river in the Hornet, Chichester, shortly after 6pm last night (February 17) after the 12-year old, who was playing on a makeshift raft with two friends, fell into the water and was swept downstream.
The force of the water carried the boy dangerously close to the culvert pipe, where the river goes under the city, before he managed to pull himself onto a small brick ledge.
A crew from Chichester Fire Station were on the scene within minutes of the alarm being raised and were able to reach the boy using a system of ladders and ropes.
The boy, who was suffering from cold and shock, was treated at the scene by paramedics from South East Coast Ambulance Service.
He was taken to hospital but did not have any serious injuries.
A spokesman for the ambulance said he was ‘very cold and wet’.
Kim Taylor, West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service incident commander in charge of the rescue, said: “This young lad had a very lucky escape because this could have been a much more serious incident.
“If he had been swept a few more feet downstream into that culvert pipe then I have no doubt we would be talking about a tragic outcome.
“This incident really does highlight how dangerous playing on, or wading into, water can be. The protracted period of rain and higher than usual water levels mean that the risks are even greater at the moment.
“However, even if the water doesn’t look deep it can still be highly dangerous. Our advice is simple - don’t put yourself or others at risk just stay out of the water.”