Grandad left with ‘mangled insides’ after shocking boat propeller accident

A grandad suffered horrific life-changing injuries after falling off a canal boat and into the propeller blades.

James Christie was left with "insides mangled" following the shocking incident just hours into a wedding anniversary trip with wife Clare.

They were celebrating 33 years as a married couple and borrowed the vessel from friends for a trip up the Grand Union Canal in Northamptonshire.

As James, 58, reversed the boat shortly after setting off, the bottom became stuck in debris and he was thrown off the edge, landing in the blades.

He sustained injuries to the back of his body, with his right buttock, most of his left buttock and several muscles being severely 'mangled', exposing his insides.

Despite his shocking wounds and severe blood loss, brave James somehow managed to drag himself out of the water. Then Clare, 53, realised the extent of his injuries and was forced to push parts of what she believes were his internal organs back inside his body to save his life.

The self-employed lorry driver was rushed to hospital for emergency surgery where he was fitted with a permanent stoma bag to allow him to go to the toilet.

Clare, from Rushden, Northamptonshire, described it as being in a horror movie.

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She said: "It was a horror movie but one where you are in it. It was horrific.

"It was in the blink of an eye his life changed.

"His internal organs had been mangled. I was putting them in the cavity that was there with a dressing.

"Parts of him were just dangling. There was lots of white, pink flesh. It was his muscles all by his back passage and rectum.

"It was a case of get them in and get them covered, then I had a towel over him. As he was getting out it (his leg injury) was growing bigger and bigger by the second, and instantly turning purple and black."

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"I ran and got a lifebuoy but he couldn't hold on anymore. He just looked me in the eye and said: 'I've been really badly injured Clare. I can't hold on. I'm going.'

"Then he told me he loved me and the children. (Before the accident) it was so tranquil. We were having the best of times and loving it."

A passing boat helped raise the alarm before James was rushed to hospital.

He has since had six surgeries, with three more planned over the next two weeks.

James's daughter, Jo, says "the hardest part is not being able to go and give him a cuddle".

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She said: "This is going to be a mammoth recovery for my dad.

"In the end (a passer-by) managed to get a rope under his arm and pulled him to the side of the canal. They held onto him for dear life.

"Dad didn't lose consciousness but he was very ill and believed he was dying.

"He was experiencing every horrific detail. He remembers being spun round and round by the propeller and being underwater.

"The full extent is still really unknown because he's still so prone to infection at the moment.

"He has been doing physiotherapy. He's a go-getter – if they set him a bar, he's going to beat it."

She went on: "He said it's like laying on razor blades but he can't lay on his tummy because he has the stoma bag now."

Family friend Tracey Truett has launched a JustGiving page to help pay for James's living costs and his recovery.

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