Pensioner rescued by RNLI after spending night in cave

Sally, 69, was found on a rock showing signs of hypothermia


Pensioner rescued after falling into a cave

A pensioner was left stranded in a cave in Devon for 17 hours after plunging off a steep cliff and banging her head on the rocks below.

The 69-year-old, named only as Sally, failed to return home from a walk on Saturday afternoon and her worried family called in the emergency services.

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Two lifeboats were scrambled on Sunday morning and she was found perched on a rock waving desperately for help and showing the early signs of hypothermia.

After being hauled aboard shortly after 9.30am she told rescuers: "Thank you very much. I'm very cold."

Credits: Minehead RNLI Lifeboat Station

Minehead RNLI Lifeboat Station

It is thought that her life was saved because the thick parka coat she was wearing prevented hypothermia from setting in.

The woman was raced back to the RNLI base in Minehead, north Devon, five miles away where she was reunited with her husband and son.

She had been walking along the treacherous path at Hurlstone Point – an area amblers are told to avoid in bad weather.

The pensioner lost her footing and slipped 10 feet before banging her head and becoming stuck at the base of the cliff.

As night set in she released her best chance of survival was to shelter in the cave.

Credits: Minehead RNLI Lifeboat Station

Minehead RNLI Lifeboat Station

A major overnight search was launched involving local coastguards, Exmoor Search and Rescue, police and a helicopter when her family raised the alarm on Saturday.

But she was ultimately found shivering in the cold by lifeboat crews on Sunday morning and "extracted" from the cave.

RNLI helmsman Andrew Escort said: "She was getting towards hypothermia, and I'm very surprised she hadn't succumbed to it.

"I think it's because she had a thick parka on with a hood – that's what saved her."

Credits: Minehead RNLI Lifeboat Station

Minehead RNLI Lifeboat Station

His colleague Phil Sanderson told Mail Online: "She seemed to have bumped her head after falling from the rugged coastal path when it was starting to get dark.

"She ended up in a cave that goes from one side of the cliff to the other.

"When we found her, she was very, very cold and a bit confused.

"She seemed really tired. It would certainly have been difficult for her to sleep, but luckily for her the seas were quite still last night and the temperatures were fairly mild."

The woman was treated by paramedics but was miraculously uninjured apart from a graze on her head.