A FISHERMAN suffered serious head injuries after plunging from a Sunderland pier today.
The 60-year-old fell backwards off the old North Pier at Roker, smashing his head against a concrete ledge.
Coastguard officers, Northumbria Police and paramedics were all called to the pier at 12.45am after a fellow fisherman reported the accident.
Although the pier is closed off to the public amid concerns about safety, anglers can often be seen fishing off the end of the structure.
After being winched to safety, the fisherman was taken to the Royal Hospital.
Neil Mearns, from Sunderland Coastguard, said: “This man had been packing up his gear when, for one reason or another, he has fallen backwards about 7ft to a ledge below the pier.
“He was left semi-conscious lying on the ledge while the emergency services were called.”
The North East Ambulance Service’s Hazardous Response Team (HART) arrived at the scene and, assisted by Coastguard officers, climbed down to the injured man and helped lift him onto a spinal stretcher.
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Mr Mearns said: “He was then winched back up and, with help from emergency lighting, was treated before being taken into the ambulance.”
Now the Coastguard is warning anglers about the dangers of fishing off the pier, particularly under the cover of darkness.
Mr Mearns said: “These structures are dangerous which is why they have been closed to members of the public.”
Tony Morton, 33, who lives beside Roker Marina, said: “It’s not uncommon to see the fishermen out there. It doesn’t seem to make a difference whether the pier is closed or not. They’ve been going down there for years.”
A Northumbria Police spokesman said: “At 12.45am, police received a report from the ambulance service of an unconscious man on North Pier in Sunderland.
“It would appear that a 60-year-old man had tripped and hit his head.”