Plymouth fisherman stuck at sea after falling overboard 'lucky to be alive'

  • Watch Sam Blackledge's report.

A Plymouth fisherman says he is lucky to be alive after he fell overboard off the South Devon coast.

Paul Reed was only rescued thanks to a vital piece of equipment which sent a distress signal to the emergency services.

Paul was heading towards Salcombe on the morning of Friday 3 September when the boat he was on, the Sidney Rose, hit a patch of rough weather.

He tripped and fell overboard, becoming stuck in the water with no chance of swimming to shore.

But his decision to put on his lifejacket would prove crucial.

Paul's lifejacket is equipped with a personal locator beacon. Credit: ITV News

He remembered the jacket was equipped with a personal locator beacon, which sends a distress signal to the Coastguard with exact co-ordinates.

Within minutes, help was on its way. Two lifeboats and a helicopter picked Paul up and airlifted him to Derriford Hospital, where he was checked over and given a clean bill of health.

He says there is no doubt the beacon saved his life.

"If I didn't have it on, I wouldn't be here speaking to you now," Paul said. "They are a life-saver."

The Sidney Rose hit bad weather on Friday morning. Credit: ITV News

The owner of the boat, Ben Squire, says the incident has shocked the fishing community - and is a reminder to always carry the right equipment.

"It was frightening, really frightening," he said. "There have been quite a few fatalities in fishing. Paul was wearing the right kit, he was trained on how to use it."

Paul was airlifted to hospital by a Coastguard helicopter. Credit: HM Coastguard