Fisherman loses leg in horrific rope accident at sea


A FISHERMAN lost a leg in a horrific accident at sea when a rope wrapped around the limb and “snapped” it in two.

Paul Buchan was in danger of bleeding to death in the middle of the North Sea but his life was saved by the quick actions of the ship’s cook.

Paul, 22, survived after chef Charlie McDonald tied a tourniquet to the mangled remains of the leg.

The fisherman was airlifted to hospital where surgeons had to amputate his leg at the thigh because of the extent of the injuries caused by the rope.

He was 50 miles off the coast in the North Sea passing a rope to another boat when the gruesome incident happened and was airlifted to the Aberdeen Royal Infirmary by Rescue Bond One, a BP helicopter.


Paul, 22, survived after chef Charlie McDonald tied a tourniquet to the mangled remains of the leg.


Despite his ordeal the fisherman from Peterhead is thankful to have escaped with his life and is looking forward to celebrating his son’s first birthday next week.

“I just have to thankful I’m still here,” he said.

“My leg got hauled up. I heard a crack – a snap – and I froze.”

He continued: “I tried to block the pain out. I don’t know how I managed. I knew my leg was bleeding, but I didn’t know it had snapped off. I didn’t look down.”

As the chef stopped the bleeding skipper of the Fruitful Vine, John Nichol, phoned the coastguard.

“Charlie and John were trying to make me happy,” Paul said, “to take my mind off it.

“They were in more shock than me.”

He added: “It still feels like a dream. I keep on expecting to wake up from it.

“I’ve never even broken a bone before, and now the worst possible thing has happened.”

Paul, who left school at 16 to go to sea, is from a long line of fishermen, including his father Andrew who was at the hospital when the doctors operated.

Andrew couldn’t bring himself the break the news to his son that his leg was gone.

“I said the doctor could, and we would be there for support,” Andrew Buchan said. “I don’t know where you start breaking news like that.”

He explained: “The Flourish, the Fruitful Vine’s pair trawler, was on the wrong side of the wind, meaning the boat was blown on top of the net, so Paul passed a rope over to the Flourish to tow away from the net.

“The Fruitful Vine then went ahead and at this point his leg got caught in the rope. By the time he realised his leg was caught it was too late.

“He says he felt his leg getting squashed then after about five to ten minutes he felt and heard the bone snap.

“The skipper, John Nicol, got on the phone to the doctor then the cook, Charlie McDonald, attended to Paul.

“He applied the tourniquet while the helicopter came from Inverness. It took about an hour to get there and 20 minutes to get to Aberdeen Royal Infirmary.

“The skipper called us just after nine on Saturday morning telling us Paul had been airlifted. I asked what was wrong with his leg, was it broken?

“The skipper was obviously in shock as well and he told us it was severed.”

Andrew continued: “The surgeon spoke to us on Saturday and told us they had taken his leg off just below the knee then on Monday he was taken into the operating theatre again and more was taken off, this time just above the knee.

“We were told that the cook did an excellent job with the tourniquet and we’d like to thank him because he probably saved Paul’s life.”

Speaking about his son’s recovery he said: “He’s coming on really well all things considered.

“He’s up and about in his wheelchair, which was a surprise, and he’s making jokes.

“He asked when he was lying in the hospital bed if he would get back to sea again, I didn’t know what to say to him but for health and safety reasons I don’t think he will.”

Arthur Nichol, part owner of the fishing boat, said: “Charlie used a piece of rope for tying a float onto the net as a tourniquet.

“If he hadn’t done that he [Paul] would have lost his life.”


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