A nine-year-old boy was left with serious leg injuries after he fell from a narrowboat in Devizes and got tangled up in the propeller.

It is understood he suffered the injuries after his family reversed the boat to try to rescue him.

It happened at midday on Easter Monday on the Kennet and Avon Canal near Laywood Bridge, a secluded spot between Devizes Marina and the Bridge Inn at Horton.

The boy, who is understood to be from Somerset, was on board with his parents and grandparents when he fell from the back.

A group of walkers saw the accident and called 999.

The first paramedic arrived in a car at 12.08pm. The boy was on the towpath by this stage. He suffered severe lower leg injuries so the paramedic requested an air ambulance before administering pain relief and dressing the boy’s wounds.

The Wiltshire Air Ambulance was at a road accident in Ludgershall so the Great Western Air Ambulance, based in Filton, landed at 12.36pm.

The air ambulance had a critical care paramedic and doctor on board who were able to provide a wider range of treatment including stronger pain relief.

The medics worked on the boy for about an hour to make sure he was stablised before he was airlifted. The boy was conscious throughout but was given two lots of pain relief.

The air ambulance arrived at Frenchay Hospital, Bristol, at 1.48pm. The boy went into theatre soon afterwards for surgery and the Gazette understands he is recovering well.

Peter Sadler, the critical care paramedic on board the air ambulance, said: “This was a particularly unusual accident that resulted in the young lad suffering severe leg injuries.

“However, the high standard of emergency care he received on scene combined with being flown directly to a major trauma centre mean he has been given the best chance of making a good recovery. Our thoughts are with him and his family.”

Bonnie Evanson, landlady of The Bridge Inn at Horton, said the walkers who witnessed the accident called in to her pub.

Mrs Evanson said: “They were in shock and they came in for a drink. One of the walkers called 999 and said there was a lot of blood. It is quite shocking.”

Alan Smith, boat manager of the Kennet and Avon Canal Trust’s trip boat the Kenavon Venture, said canals are dangerous places. He said if someone falls off a boat into the canal the engine of the boat should be put into neutral to shut the propeller down and a lifebelt thrown to the casualty.

“The shape of the boat tends to drag people into the propeller and it’s a terrifying thing,” he said.