Joy as diver survives 56-hour ordeal

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The Independent Online

The father of a diver found alive off the Channel Islands after a 56-hour ordeal said today the family was "gobsmacked" that he had survived.

Dan Harvey, 66, said today that his son Matthew had said, through his oxygen mask in hospital, that he was sorry for the trouble he had caused the family.

The emergency services were "taken aback" and some were "in tears" after Matthew, 35, was found unconscious but alive - just hours after a huge search for him had been called off, said Mr Harvey.

Matthew Harvey, a social history officer with Guernsey Museum Service, got into trouble after going on a solo scuba dive near Fermain Bay on Saturday morning.

A major air and sea search was launched after he was reported missing - but halted when he was not found.

Then at about 7pm on Monday, Mr Harvey was pulled unconscious from the sea by the crew of a passing yacht - about 200 yards from the shore.

He was taken to hospital suffering from exhaustion, but today was back at home on the island with his wife Katie, who had reported him missing on Saturday afternoon.

Mr Harvey said today his son was "severely tired" and although he was "communicating well" had said little about how he had survived his ordeal at sea.

"After 36 hours we were starting to get concerned, I knew exposure was going to be a factor.

"We were gobsmacked when he was found alive after over 50 hours," said Mr Harvey.

He said his son was exhausted after "swimming like crazy" during eight or nine tide changes around the island.

Wearing a full wetsuit and flotation jacket, Matthew Harvey had gone scuba diving in a shallow bay.

His father said today he may have gone "a little bit too far" and was unable to get back to the island in tides which could race at up to six knots.

Mr Harvey said his son, who ditched his breathing apparatus and diving weights, told him at one stage he was being carried by the tide "like an express train".

He said his London University-educated son had only some scratches on his head as a legacy of his ordeal.

"He is on the road to recovery after some TLC, hot food and oxygen," said Mr Harvey.

He added that he did not think the ordeal would stop his son diving - "although his wife may have some other ideas".

Peter Gill, the Guernsey harbour master, added: "It is remarkable. We had feared the worst."

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