THE rescue of a dog tangled in weeds in the River Wye took a dramatic turn last week when the lifebuoy keeping its owner afloat broke.
Last Friday, (3rd February) international athlete Angela Jones was taking a personal training session, joined by her dog Jack, with client Victoria Smith-Milne near the Monmouth Rowing Club.
“I was on the Wye training with Victoria and my dog was there with us before he jumped in the water.
“This is something he normally does, as we have been open water swimming together for seven years, but he got trapped in some reeds.” Miss Jones said.
Miss Jones, who has experience as an international triathlete and an open water swimmer, tried throw a nearby lifebuoy to Jack but the rope was tangled, preventing the lifebuoy from reaching.
Jack was trapped and going under the water so she took action.
“I put the buoy around me and went into the river and swam to my dog. As they (the people on the bank) went to pull me in, the rope came off the buoy.”
Miss Jones was left to be swept down the river with the lifebuoy on while Victoria Smith-Milne and two passers by, who had stopped to help, had only the rope.
She said: “Thankfully, the wonderful people on the bank pulled the rope back and they were able to throw it to me.
“As soon as it snapped off I thought ‘oh my God, I’m gone’. If it wasn’t for those people I would have gone under.”
Once out of the river, Miss Jones was quickly wrapped up in blankets, thankful she had her dog back.
“I would never recommend doing this, but I went in because my dog means everything to me and I had the buoy.”
She continued: “I also had people with me and I’m a lifesaver and an experienced open water swimmer.
“No way anyone else would have survived that without help because we were going under, so I am extremely thankful for those people who helped.”
While Miss Jones can say this story has a happy ending, it might not have been the case because of the faulty lifebuoy, something that poses great concern. She said: “Every single day I teach on the side of the River Wye and to have the buoy in that condition is appalling. It wouldn’t save a life which is what it is there to do.”
Monmouthshire County Council (MCC) is responsible for the maintenance of the lifebuoys and says it last inspected the lifebuoy involved in the incident on 1st February.
A spokesperson said: “Life buoys and aids are inspected on a weekly basis, all life buoys and replacement parts are supplied by Glasdon UK and meet LSAG (life-saving application guide) regulations.”
A replacement for the broken lifebuoy was due to be installed on Tuesday, 7th February, but there have been problems with the upkeep of the lifebuoys in the past.
MCC continued: “We’re responsible for 14 of our own lifebuoys and five on behalf of Monmouth Town Council. We have a continual struggle keeping life buoys serviceable and in place due to anti-social behaviour.”
Miss Jones would like to thank the two people who provided assistance. They are asked to get in touch via the Beacon.