A TOURIST sparked an £8,700-an-hour helicopter rescue after he decided to swim in Loch Ness – wearing only his boxers.
Cam Hendry – who admits he was an “idiot” – decided to go for a dip during a boat trip on one of Scotland’s biggest and deepest lochs.
Cam, 26, instantly regretted following his impulse when he lost all feeling in his legs.
Girlfriend Laura Mattinson was unable to help haul her partner back aboard as she is pregnant.
The bus driver from York was able to grab and hold on to a life ring thrown to him by Laura, 23, until rescuers arrived by helicopter and boat.
The pair, from York, had hired a small cruiser and took to the loch on Monday.
Cam told a local newspaper: “I thought ‘I cannot go all the way up to Loch Ness and not have a swim’.
“I thought there were steps on the edge of the boat and got down to my boxers and jumped in, and immediately regretted it.
“I realised how choppy it was and could not step back on.
“My girlfriend is 20 weeks pregnant and she could not pull me back in the boat.
“She threw me a life ring. I think I was in the water for about 30 minutes when she called 999.
“I had started shivering and thought ‘this is getting really dangerous’.
“By the time I seen the Ness Express I could not feel my legs and could not turn around because I was getting slapped across the side of the boat.
“I was in the water for about an hour in total and they said my body temperature was below 35c when they pulled me out.”
A local boat, the Ness Express, managed to pull Cam from the water and gave him a body suit to help his body reach the normal temperature of 37 degrees.
They took him to Fort Augustus where he him and his Laura were met by Police, a Drumnadrochit First Responder, the crews from the Ros Crana barge and Ness Express (Cruise Loch Ness) and SAS Scottish Ambulance Service.
A rescue helicopter then flew him him to Raigmore Hospital in Inverness for further assessments.
The couple had hired the boat for a week and are currently staying in the area until Saturday when they return home.
Loch Ness RNLI team announced the call out on social media on Monday, writing: “Loch Ness Lifeboat was tasked to assist a person in the water.
“The man was taken out of the water by a local boat – Ness Express, who then left a man on-board the vessel to help pilot the man’s pregnant partner return to Fort Augustus.
“The Ness Express made its way to Fort Augustus where the Police, a Drumnadrochit First Responder, the crews from the Ros Crana barge and Ness Express (Cruise Loch Ness) and SAS Scottish Ambulance Service assisted the man till Helicopter Rescue 951 was able to land the winch-man and then take the responding conscious man to Raigmore Inverness Hospital for further assessments.
“The Loch Ness Lifeboat then returned to the initial vessel and crew man Neil Stebbings boarded the vessel and helped it into Fort Augustus where the Inverness Mobile Coastguard team were waiting with an Ambulance crew to assist the walking pregnant lady.
“Remember Loch Ness is always cold even on a sunny day like today – the water is around 6 C all year round.”
Cam later responded to the post, thanking all response crews for saving his life.
He said: “I just want to say a massive thank you to all the different people that rescued me yesterday. You all saved my life, I wouldn’t have lasted much longer in that water.
“You were all fantastic! Everyone was so professional and reacted quickly to make sure I was safe.
“I’d also like to thank all the people that assisted my pregnant girlfriend, who will never forgive me, in getting the boat back to Fort Augustus safely and the ambulance crews who made sure she was okay.
“Finally, I’m so sorry that I caused such a mess.
“The people that had to come out to me could have been relaxing on a beautiful day but they had to pull an idiot out of the water instead.”
Although the exact cost of the rescue is unknown, in 2011 the Maritime and Coastguard Agency revealed their hourly cost for calls outs by helicopter for the previous year was £8,692 per hour.