‘i thought i was dying’

A FATHER has spoken of the terrifying moments he thought he was about to die when an everyday fishing trip went horribly wrong.

Terry Buxton was left clinging to his kayak and screaming for help when a sudden change in conditions swept him hundreds of yards away from shore.

Left exhausted and alone after fighting strong currents, he began to lose consciousness and said his thoughts turned to his wife and daughter – and the fact he’d never see them again.

Bricklayer Terry, from Skewen, near Neath, said: “I was out there screaming for help. I could see people on the beach but they looked like dots and because the wind was blowing, they couldn’t hear me.


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“I really thought I was going to die.”

Terry got into trouble out fishing in his kayak on what looked like a calm day off Aberavon Beach.

“It was sunny and the sea was like a duck pond when I went in at 10am,” he said.

“I had a wetsuit and a life jacket on, the tide was coming in and I had all the right gear.”

But within minutes, he’d been swept 400 yards from shore in strong winds and choppy waters.

“When I went to drop the anchor, it was tangled and by the time I’d untangled it, I’d been swept far from the beach,” he said.

“I tried to paddle back but it was like running against a conveyor belt and then the current pushed the boat over and knocked me into the water.”

Clinging to his upturned boat, Terry was being swept further and further out so he tried to swim to shore without it.

A strong swimmer who grew up in Porthcawl and who has swum all his life in the sea, Terry thought he had a good chance.

Within moments, he realised he was wrong.

“It’s hard to swim in a strong current,” he said. “It was like running up a hill with your arms and legs aching and out of breath but knowing if you stop, you’ll die.”

He’d been in the water 15 minutes when he realised he couldn’t go on.

“I’d got to the point when I had nothing left in me,” he said.

“I was thinking of my wife and daughter and thinking no one was coming to get me.

“I kept trying to swim but I couldn’t so I went on my back and tried to float.

“I thought I’d had it. The amount of water I was swallowing, I thought I was going under.

“Towards the end, it felt like I was drowning and I could feel my eyes rolling and I was nodding off to sleep.”

Terry was so far gone he didn’t see the lifeboat racing out to save him at 10.20am.

The volunteer crew from Port Talbot Lifeboat Station got to his side within seven minutes of getting a call.

“I just saw this bright orange thing straight in front of me. I was fighting for breath by then.”

Port Talbot RNLI spokesman Mel Cooper said: “He was at a serious risk of drowning and in a very distressed state.”

Having been rescued just minutes from death, Terry said: “It was the most frightening experience of my life.

“I can’t thank the people who saved me enough.”

And neither can his daughter Shannon, who is so thrilled to have her dad back that she’s written a letter thanking the lifeboat crews who saved him.

Her letter said “Thank you so much for saving my daddy. I love him so much and will be grateful to you forever.”

Terry said he was delighted to be safely back with his ‘daddy’s girl’ and wife Kerry.

He also said that although people on the shore had seen him in trouble, they didn’t know who to ring.

It wasn’t until the partner of an RNLI volunteer spotted him that the alarm was raised – and his life was saved.

Terry said he’ll never forget the faces of the crew who saved him and went down the next day to thank them with Shannon and Kerry.

“It is not very often our crew actually get to meet the people they have rescued,” Mel said.

“So it was nice of the Buxton family to call in to the station the following day.

“The letter from Shannon was particularly touching and a very nice gesture.”

But tragedy was narrowly averted, he warned.

“Terry was very lucky to have been spotted in time. Some people had actually seen him in trouble and were unsure who to phone,” Mel said.

He added: “We would remind people if they ever see people or boats in trouble, they should always dial 999 and ask for the coastguard.”

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Article source: http://www.walesonline.co.uk/showbiz-and-lifestyle/real-life/2012/05/06/i-thought-i-was-dying-91466-30909428/