Home   News   Article

Raigmore A&E doctor Duncan Brown thanks 'guardian angel' rescuer after 30ft plunge off bridge during cycle event

By Lorna Thompson

Register for free to read more of the latest local news. It's easy and will only take a moment.

Click here to sign up to our free newsletters!

A JUNIOR doctor has paid tribute to his "guardian angel" rescuer and the emergency services after he plunged 30ft off a bridge near Portsoy during a cycle event.

Duncan Brown (34), who has spent the last six months working at Raigmore Hospital's A&E department, found himself being airlifted there as a patient after a near three-hour dramatic rescue involving between 40-50 emergency services personnel on Saturday, July 31.

The outcome could have been very different had it not been for off-duty RAF nursing officer, Jenelle Kerr (51), who "saw a flash of red" go over the Burn of Boyne bridge while she was working in her garden at the quiet countryside spot.

Seasoned cyclist Duncan had been taking part in a 186-mile audax road cycle event, called The Turra Coo, setting off from Nairn.

His cycle came to an abrupt end four hours in, on the B9139 coast road from Portsoy towards Whitehills, when he tried to brake on a descent approaching a sharp bend.

Duncan skidded, hit the bridge wall and was catapulted into the water below – along with his bike.

Now recovering on crutches at home in Inverness with wife Lizzie and six-week-old daughter Emily, Duncan said: "I thought I was going to die."

He recalled: "I was going up out of Portsoy and I was looking forward to a bacon roll stop at Banff. There was a descent and the road became quite slippy as a few showers had come over.

"I braked a bit then saw a sharp right-hand corner by the bridge. I braked again and realised I was going to overshoot the corner – and it was much slippier than I thought.

"My back wheel skidded and I thought I would hit the side of the bridge and land on the road. With the dynamics of the way that I hit the wall, the angle and momentum, I went over the parapet.

"I must have hit a tree because I remember this smack. It all happened in a flash but I landed in the river below.

"I went splash, then thud. I didn't black out – I don't quite know how. Then I realised I was on the edge of the riverbank with my feet and body in the water. My bike was in the middle of the river. But I'd fallen quite a way and knocked myself about. I felt really dizzy, sick and really faint. I just managed to pull myself out using my arms to stabilise myself and watched the bike slowly drifting away.

"And then I just remember this voice, and I was looking up thinking 'what on earth has happened?'. There was this lady on the bridge shouting 'hello, hello, are you ok?'

"Down my left leg and left-hand side was agony. I couldn't move. I was close to just drifting down the river had that lady not come off the bridge and come down to save me."

Cyclist Duncan Brown with his rescuer, Jenelle Kerr, at the bridge over Burn of Boyne. Picture: Jasperimage.
Cyclist Duncan Brown with his rescuer, Jenelle Kerr, at the bridge over Burn of Boyne. Picture: Jasperimage.

Duncan said the fact that the incident had been witnessed at all and that his rescuer should be a medically trained professional was "nothing short of a miracle".

"She really had just seconds to come down, stabilise me and stop me drifting down the river and drowning by making sure I wasn't going to pass out. She lay me down, made sure I was stable and alerted the emergency services," he said.

"She had to take extreme caution to get down the riverbank and go an alternative route to get to me. It was so steep, it had rained and it was really slippy.

"I was helpless. Her actions saved my life."

Jenelle also managed to recover Duncan's bike after making sure he was stable.

The ambulance crew then arrived on the scene but required help from the fire and rescue service, the Coastguard and a helicopter from Raigmore to pull Duncan to safety using a large raft.

Duncan suffered soft tissue injury to the left thigh and pelvis.

Emergency services rescuers used a large raft to get Duncan Brown to safety. Picture: Jasperimage.
Emergency services rescuers used a large raft to get Duncan Brown to safety. Picture: Jasperimage.

He said: "It's incredibly painful but I didn't need an operation or a stay in hospital.

"I know how incredibly fortunate I am.

"Jenelle was an absolute guardian angel."

The cyclist and his rescuer have spoken most days since their dramatic introduction.

Jenelle recalled: "I was putting some mulch in my garden. I heard a 'click, click, click', which was Duncan trying to brake, and out of the corner of my eye I saw a flash of red.

"I looked up just in time to see him go over the bridge stone wall.

"At the time I was on autopilot, just thinking of the practicalities of what needed to be done."

She added: "Had it been three minutes earlier or three minutes later I wouldn't have been in the front garden – and wouldn't have heard a thing."

The incident has been life-changing for Duncan, who added: "I owe my huge gratitude and immense thanks to all the emergency services and Jenelle. The emergency services guys are complete heroes who are there for people at their most vulnerable.

"Being a doctor I see suffering as part of my job and to see how suddenly life can change has really put everything in perspective. Life is precious."

Do you want to respond to this article? If so, click here to submit your thoughts and they may be published in print.

This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies - Learn More