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Last Updated: Sunday, 29 May, 2005, 11:21 GMT 12:21 UK
Jet-ski girl was 'close to death'
RAF Sea King helicopter
The teenager was winched aboard an RAF helicopter
A teenage jet-skier found drifting in the Humber estuary was only minutes away from death, her rescuers say.

Michaela Crawford, 15, of Sheffield, was suffering from severe hypothermia after three hours in the water off the coast of Cleethorpes on Saturday.

An RNLI spokeswoman said: "Given another 15 minutes we would probably have been dealing with a fatality."

Michaela was taken by RAF helicopter to hospital in Grimsby where she was recovering on Sunday.

Her 15-year-old friend Brook Mah, also from Sheffield, was rescued after just 15 minutes in the water when the crew of a fishing boat spotted her drifting near her jet-ski.

She was picked up by the vessel and told the skipper that her companion was missing.

The fact that she was spotted at all is a miracle
RNLI spokeswoman Andrea Towler

He raised the alarm and two RAF helicopters, three lifeboats and seven other boats started a search.

RNLI spokeswoman Andrea Towler said: "The temperature of the sea is about eight degrees centigrade, there was a very strong south-westerly wind and a considerable swell - all factors which gave us cause for grave concern.

"Michaela had actually drifted almost three miles after becoming separated from her friend and was close to the point where the estuary meets the North Sea by the time we found her.

"The fact that she was spotted at all is a miracle. It is without doubt that both girls were found alive because they were wearing life jackets."

She said the girls, who were on holiday with their parents at the Fitties holiday park in Cleethorpes, were both competent jet-skiers but this was the first time they had been out on the machine this year.


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