Escapologist Antony Britton says he’s lucky to be alive after losing consciousness during a daring escape bid.
The Linthwaite-based daredevil had hoped to go one better than Harry Houdini by escaping unaided after being handcuffed and buried in a standard-sized grave under six feet of soil.
But Antony had to be hauled out unconscious by crew members after he failed to break through to the surface almost nine minutes into the escape bid.
He was taken to a waiting ambulance where he was given oxygen before coming round. His escapade bid – in front of an anxious audience at Slaithwaite Spa – resulted in a cracked rib and several minor scratches, but Antony says it could have been his last-ever show.
“I almost died,” he said. “I was just seconds away from death. It was scary. The pressure of the soil was crushing around me. Even when I found an air pocket, when I exhaled the soil around me was crushing me even more. I could feel myself losing consciousness and there was nothing I could do about it. I was pretty much dying.
“But everyone was on the ball and the crew was well-drilled. They knew pretty much where I would be under the soil and after the digger had moved in behind me, the team were hand-balling the soil until they could reach me.”
Antony said his biggest disappointment was to discover that he was just two feet from the surface when he had to be rescued.
“I gave it my all, but it just wasn’t my day,” he said. “But I’m in the best company going.”
Antony is only the third person in 100-years to attempt the Buried Alive escape. Legendary escapologist Harry Houdini attempted the feat in 1915 while British master of the craft Alan Alan tried it in 1949. Both failed and had to be dug out by their crews.
“I couldn’t be more proud than to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with those guys on this challenge,” added Antony.
The dramatic scenes unfolded at Antony’s fourth Escape for Life event on Saturday. The escape bid was the highlight of an event which also featured magicians, bands and circus acts and held to raise funds for charity Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research, which is changing its name to Bloodwise this month.
Antony, who heads not-for-profit company Escape for Life, had been due to undertake the escape bid outside the Traveller’s Rest in Meltham in March, but called off the event due to unexpected snowfall.
Saturday’s event was also in the balance following rain earlier in the week, but after consulting experts Antony was given the all-clear.
However, he won’t be attempting the Buried Alive escape bid again. Antony, whose previous fundraising events have included escaping a burning steel cage and wriggling out of a strait jacket suspended from a burning rope, said: “I’ll take three or four weeks to recuperate and see what we do next.”