Scottish surfer missing 32 hours rescued drifting 21km from coast

Matthew Bryce was rescued by a coast guard helicopter after 32 hours in the water. Video still from YouTube

A missing surfer was found clinging to his board 21 kilometres off the Scottish coast after drifting at sea for 32 hours.

Matthew Bryce waded into the water at around 9 a.m. Sunday morning from Machrihanish Beach on Scotland’s west coast. His family reported his absence the following day, and a search led by the coast guard ensued. Officials admitted that by Monday evening, they were losing hope of finding the 22-year-old Glasgow resident alive.

It wasn’t until 7:30pm that a rescue helicopter spotted Bryce still clinging to his surfboard. NBC reports that at first the crew thought it was an ordinary buoy, but then realised it was Bryce when they saw him waving.

“It’s just a great feeling,” Coast guard Captain Andy Pilliner told NBC. “It’s just what you’re hoping for, but daren’t.”

A video shows the dramatic moment rescuers hoisted the young Scot from the chilly waters and up into the helicopter. Conscious but suffering from hypothermia, Bryce was immediately rushed to a hospital in Belfast to be treated.

According to the Los Angeles Times, Bryce was wearing a thick neoprene suit, a fact the coast guard says may have saved his life.

“I cannot thank those enough who rescued and cared for me,” Bryce said in a statement released by the hospital. “They are all heroes.”