August 23, 2008

Father and Son Saved in Drama Off Beach ; Lifeguards Came to the Rescue of a Father and Son After an Afternoon Swim in the Sea Almost Ended in Tragedy.

By paul greaves

Lifeguards came to the rescue of a father and son after an afternoon swim in the sea almost ended in tragedy.

The RNLI team on Bantham beach in South Devon are being credited with saving the lives of the eight-year-old boy and his father, who were caught by a strong rip current a short distance from shore.

The incident happened on Wednesday after the boy swam out beyond the flagged area which warns of dangerous seas. Now the RNLI has issued a new warning to people heading for the beach on Bank Holiday Monday not to swim out of their depth.

Events unfolded near Kingsbridge after the father spotted his son getting swept out to sea. An RNLI spokesman said : "The man went in to help but got caught in the same rip current." The boy entered the water on the left-hand side of Bantham beach, which is a dedicated boating lane.

His father was keeping a watch on him from the shore, when the boy started to struggle against a rip current.

RNLI lifeguards patrolling the beach saw the events unfold and responded immediately. Lifeguard Mike Reed was sent to the boy's rescue and swam out with a rescue tube, bringing him back.

But no sooner was the son safe that his father got into difficulties.

He had clambered into the water fully-clothed, thinking it would be easy to get his son out, but the power of the sea took him away from the beach.

RNLI lifeguard Becky Ellis immediately grabbed a rescue board and paddled though the surf to reach him, securing him on top of the board and Mr Reed, having left the young boy safely on shore, went back out to assist Ms Ellis to bring him back in.

A third RNLI lifeguard, supervisor Liam Krige, who was off duty but enjoying a day on the beach, joined in to help once the casualties were ashore.

He said: "Both father and son were very shaken up. An ambulance was called while the lifeguards treated them for shock, giving them oxygen, blankets and reassurance.

"The father had also inhaled a lot of water, so after initial assessments was taken to hospital as a precautionary measure."

Mr Krige said: "The RNLI lifeguard team did a great job in averting what could have been a very tragic incident and most certainly saved two lives yesterday.

"Young people account for such a high proportion of the RNLI lifeguards' activity.

"Young people, particularly children, are less hazard-aware so we would urge anyone planning a trip to the beach this bank holiday to make sure their children know the importance of beach safety, to stay within the red and yellow flags and to keep within their depth."

(c) 2008 Western Morning News, The Plymouth (UK). Provided by ProQuest LLC. All rights Reserved.