Owen Corkery said the late Con Crowley, from Crosshaven in Co Cork, deserves formal recognition for his heroics.
“That man saved my life, there is no doubt about it,” Mr Corkery said after meeting Edward, the duke of Kent, during his visit to Crosshaven RNLI lifeboat station yesterday.
It was one of several lifeboat stations the duke — patron and president of the RNLI since 1969 — visited during a low-key two-day visit to Ireland.
He also visited the RNLI inshore station at Dromineer in Tipperary, and lifeboat stations at Kinsale, Co Cork, Kilrush, Co Clare, and Fenit, Co Kerry.
Mr Corkery was at the centre of a miracle rescue between Spike Island and Haulbowline in Cork Harbour on June 9, 2012, when he was thrown from his RIB. The out-of-control vessel circled and ran over Mr Corkery up to four times — the propellers causing severe injuries to his left arm, his back and head.
Mr Crowley, a member of Crosshaven RNLI, was on duty on a harbour pilot boat at Cobh when the alarm was raised. He and his crew, Nick Burke and Gerry Moran, were on the scene within two minutes.
Mr Crowley hauled Mr Corkery from the water, and applied a tourniquet to his mangled arm as the Crosshaven lifeboat, with Kieran Coniry, Mark Bushe and Sandra Farrell on board, raced to the scene.
Together, they ferried Mr Corkery to shore where he received further medical treatment from RNLI volunteer, Gary Heslin, before he was transferred to hospital, where doctors later had to amputate his left arm from below the elbow.
Mr Corkery told the duke yesterday that if it wasn’t for Mr Crowley, and for the swift response of Crosshaven RNLI, he wouldn’t be alive today.
He said Mr Crowley, who died two years ago, never sought praise or credit for his role in the rescue and should be formally recognised.
The duke, who was accompanied by RNLI chairman Stuart Popham, RNLI chairman of the Irish Council, David Delamer, and British ambassador Robin Barnett, also met Laura O’Mahony, from Sydney Park in Cork City, who was rescued by Crosshaven RNLI, along with her dog Sam, from mudflats near Hop Island in Rochestown.
Ms O’Mahony, who was clutching a framed photograph of Sam, who has since died, told the duke she has organised fundraisers for the RNLI as a thank you. The crew of Ballycotton lifeboat, who were called out on a shout the previous night, then took the duke on a trip out to Roche’s Point.
Earlier, the Duke visited Kinsale lifeboat station where he met crewman, Jim Grennan, who in April 2016 helped save three Portuguese fishermen from a sinking trawler, the Sean Anthony, and who also helped save 30 people from the sail training vessel, Astrid, which foundered outside Kinsale Harbour in July 2013.
The duke met Christopher Keane Hopcraft, one of the young sail trainees who was rescued from the Astrid, and Janet Rutherford, who received medical attention and was brought to safety after she was injured on board a yacht.
He also met representatives of Kinsale’s fishing fleet, RNLI volunteers from Union Hall, and representatives of the GAA, who are partners in the RNLI’s Respect the Water campaign which aims to halve the number of coastal drowning deaths by 2024.
Kinsale RNLI lifeboat operations manager John O’Gorman said it was a honour for the crew to meet the duke.
“He has provided unwavering support to the RNLI for almost half a century. He showed a great knowledge and understanding of our lifesaving work,” he said.