Nfld. & Labrador

Donnie Dumphy actor rescued by ferry crew after spending 85 minutes in Conception Bay

Leon Parsons, the man behind the character Donnie Dumphy, was on a Sea-Doo taking pictures of an iceberg when he flipped into the ocean.

Freezing in the water near an iceberg? Not so much a time, says Leon Parsons

Leon Parsons, who plays the character Donnie Dumphy, was rescued from Conception Bay along with a friend on Tuesday. (Paul Daly/Canadian Press)

Leon Parsons, the man better known as alter ego Donnie Dumphy, spent more than an hour clinging to a Sea-Doo in the freezing cold waters off Bauline on Tuesday night.

Parsons and a friend were taking pictures of an iceberg when their watercraft rolled over and tossed them both into the bay.

"We were in that water for 85 minutes and it was absolutely insane," the actor told The St. John's Morning Show.

They flipped it back over several times, but it had taken on water and wouldn't stay right side up.

Parsons snapped a photo of an iceberg the moment before he fell into the freezing cold water. (Submitted by Leon Parsons)

Despite being thrust underwater multiple times, Parsons's cellphone still worked. He pressed the home button five times, triggering the SOS feature.

Within seconds, he was speaking with a member of the Canadian Coast Guard.

"That guy tried to keep us calm. He told us it would be 20 minutes at first. Sorry, buddy, you were wrong."

Parsons posted this picture on his Instagram story after being rescued from Conception Bay. (@Donnie_Dumphy_Official/Instagram)

It was 10:15 p.m. when the MV Flanders, the ferry that services Bell Island, arrived on scene in pitch darkness. Parsons said the search lights were pointing away from them. Without much energy left, they took turns calling out for help.

It worked.

"When they pulled me into that Zodiac, I gave out. I was like, laboured breathing. I turned into a two-by-four. I was coherent and could see everything, but my body just shut down."

The boys on the Flanders, man, they were amazing.- Leon Parsons

The inflatable boat was hoisted into the Flanders. Parsons and his friend were placed in an office next to a heater as they were brought to shore.

"The boys on the Flanders, man, they were amazing," he said. "They took care of us really well."

The duo was checked by paramedics on board the vessel. Parsons said they were both recovering by that point, and neither went to hospital.

Parsons said he was wearing splash pants and a hoodie, while his friend was wearing shorts and a T-shirt. They were both wearing life-jackets, but simply staying afloat next to an iceberg is not enough for survival.

"To anyone who is out there, wear your wet suits and all that stuff. Life-jackets aren't good enough in that ocean."

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador



  • A previous version of this story stated the men were rescued by the coast guard. In fact, they were rescued by the MV Flanders, which is a coast guard auxiliary vessel.
    Jul 11, 2019 12:38 PM NT

With files from The St. John's Morning Show


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