Innovative wild swimmers used a fishing creel to help save a man from drowning in Moray after lifesaving equipment was stolen from a harbour.
Emergency crews said the man was “lucky to be alive” after a group of open water swimmers and a nearby boat jumped into action when he was swept into Portnockie Harbour in Buckie.
The group saw the individual, who has not been named, slip into the water at the breakwater shortly after 7:30pm on Wednesday, June 8.
They initially ran to grab the life ring but discovered it was missing and instead improvised with a creel and a buoy to help pull the man to safety.
Coastguard crews praised the swimmers for their “quick-thinking” actions, but warned the incident could have been “much worse”.
Colin Wood, senior coastal operations officer for Moray with HM Coastguard, said: “Buckie and Portsoy Coastguard Rescue Teams were sent immediately but arrived on scene to find the person had already been recovered by assisting members of the public.
“The quick-thinking people nearby saved a life but, had they not thought of a bit of an ingenious solution, it could have been a very different outcome.
“Safety equipment saves lives and when it is missing, a life is potentially put in grave danger, it is that simple.”
Moray Council’s Harbourmaster, Darren Bremner, added parents should “make children aware of their actions” following the rescue.
He said: “Removing these life rings almost cost a life. Nobody wants that on their conscience.
“Quick thinking and luck that there were swimmers in the area means there was a more positive outcome on this occasion, but it could so easily have been a different story.
“We check the life rings at all our harbours regularly and this is the first time we’ve had life rings go missing. I know most people who live around here have a good understanding of how important they can be in an emergency.”