November 23, 2010 05:03:15 GMT
Greg Watkins credited the Prince for helping him when suffering a suspected heart attack on Mount Snowdon, saying 'If it wasn't for him and the rest of his crew, I'd be dead.'
British royal Prince William has been hailed a real-life hero after helping to rescue a man stranded on a mountain in Wales, two days after announcing his engagement to Kate Middleton. The 28-year-old heir returned to work as a helicopter rescue pilot for the Royal Air Force immediately after revealing his plans to wed on Tuesday, November 16 - and one of his team's first call outs on Thursday saw them come to the aid of Greg Watkins, who had suffered a suspected heart attack on Mount Snowdon, the highest peak in Wales.
The Prince's four-man crew managed to lift Watkins to safety in wet and windy conditions and he has expressed his gratitude to the young royal and his colleagues. Watkins tells Britain's Sunday Mirror newspaper, "If it wasn't for him and the rest of his crew, I'd be dead."
"He'd probably say he was just doing his job but, to me, he and his crew are heroes. The weather was appalling up on that mountain. How he managed to get the helicopter so close defies belief. The fog was so thick at times, you couldn't see your hand in front of your face. The rain was lashing down and it was howling a gale."
And Watkins admits it took him a while to realize it had been the Prince at the controls of the chopper: "I didn't know Prince William was flying the helicopter until we landed at the hospital. Even then, I felt too unwell for it to register much."
"I'd only been watching him announce the engagement on television with Kate a few hours earlier - it was his first mission since going back to work. I feel lucky to be alive but even luckier to have been rescued by the future king."