THE dramatic rescue of a student who plunged into a 60ft-high treetop following a botched parachute jump will be broadcast on national television tomorrow.
Pracheen Gemawatt narrowly escaped serious injury after he landed in the tree in Peterlee after doing a jump from Shotton airfield in May.
The 21-year-old, who is from Mumbai in India, had to be saved by Durham and Darlington firefighters who abseiled down from an aerial platform to reach him.
Now, his ordeal is to be featured in Topical Television’s BBC show Real Rescues, which focuses on the response of the emergency services who got Pracheen to safety.
Echo reporter Kevin Clark – who covered the story for the paper and took video for our website – was interviewed for the programme weeks later, along with Pracheen, and is also set to make an appearance.
Pracheen said he was feeling confident ahead of his first ever parachute jump, adding that he “wasn’t nervous at all”.
But after jumping out of a plane thousands of feet above the ground, his instructors were horrified to see him disappear into the distance, miles away from the intended landing site.
“I did not know where the landing site was, I did not have any clue where I was,” said Pracheen, who studies in Newcastle.
After being caught up in the tree’s branches he spent three hours hanging, tangled up in his parachute, before the rope rescue team from Teesside brigade managed to get him down safely.
It was only when Pracheeen eventually got to the ground and met up with university pal Eanna Flannagan that it sunk in just how lucky he had been to avoid death.
“He thought I was really seriously injured,” said Pracheen.
“When he saw me, he was so happy.
“I saw the smile on his face and how relieved he was and that’s when it hit me, that it could have been much, much worse.”
Kevin, who has worked at the Echo for more than 20 years, said: “The emergency services were absolutely brilliant. They were totally professional and just went about their jobs in the best way possible.”
l Real Rescues is on BBC1 tomorrow at 11am and will be repeated on BBC2 on Monday at 7.05am.