Ex-mayor, 75, rescued after getting stuck under pipe for five days when 'taking a shortcut to the train station'

3 July 2023, 12:01 | Updated: 3 July 2023, 12:28

Chris Cummins thought his rescuer was an angel
Chris Cummins thought his rescuer was an angel. Picture: GoFundMe

By Kit Heren

An ex-mayor of a west London borough spent five days stuck underneath a pipe after he tried to take a shortcut to the train station.

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Chris Cummins, 75, was eventually rescued from his ordeal by local footballers after he climbed under the pipe to avoid climbing a hill to catch a train from Barkingside Tube station in Redbridge, east London in February this year.

He got caught as he tried to crawl though, and was unable to dislodge himself. He was stuck with no food or water from Tuesday to Saturday - and having lost his phone the day before, he couldn't call anyone to set him free.

Mr Cummins prayed and cried out for help - and was eventually rescued by someone he thought was an angel.

Richard Eaton, the manager of Redbridge FC, the football club that Mr Cummins tried to climb through, saved him from his plight after hearing the former mayors' plaintive cries.

Chris Cummins being rescued
Chris Cummins being rescued. Picture: GoFundMe

Mr Eaton and colleagues found Mr Cummins, called the emergency services and fed the unlucky pensioner water through a straw until they arrived.

Mr Cummins then spent several months in hospital recovering, and had several toes amputated for a pre-existing condition.

He told the MailOnline: "I was probably incredibly foolish. As I lay there, I prayed – that's all I could do. Ricky and the others saved my life. I'll be a bit more careful in future."

Agonisingly, Mr Cummins could have been rescued twice before he was eventually saved, as people thought they heard his faint cries, but dismissed them.

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Chris Cummins was mayor of Redbridge in 2011
Chris Cummins was mayor of Redbridge in 2011. Picture: .

Mr Eaton said: "We can only imagine what he had to endure with no food, drink or blanket to help keep himself warm. Chris had a thin jacket on and without it we maybe would not have him with us right now.

"Chris was heard calling out on Thursday evening a full 48hrs after he first got stuck, during a night training session by one individual who stopped and shouted out but could not hear any response and thought it was someone from the tube station messing about and gave up on calling out.

"Again on the Friday a separate individual heard a cry for help and again called out towards Chris to no avail, unfortunately neither the individual or Chris himself could hear any further calls from each other.

Mr Eaton said that he and workmen were at the club on Saturday when they heard Mr Cummins crying for help, and went out to find him.

He added: "We unexpectedly found him in a terrible position face down in the dirt with no way to project his voice to be heard from the other side of the building.

"We quickly realised how serious the situation was and I called the ambulance and fire department to rescue him. I got him a small cup of water with a straw whilst the others comforted him and asked basic questions that would help the emergency services on their arrival.

"The fire department cut away the metal fence freeing Chris from one side before lifting him out and treating him onsite before rushing him off to hospital."

Mr Eaton said that he would never forget the "pure joy" in Mr Cummins' voice and face that they had found him.

He added: "I remember Chris asking if I was an angel and the relief on his face was overwhelming for us all."

Mr Eaton has launched a fundraiser in support of Mr Cummins to help "with his transition back to getting his life back to as normal".

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