Monday, August 19, 2013
A NINE-year-old boy was just ‘seconds’ away from drowning after being swept off a sand bar near Exmouth beach.
But thanks to the quick thinking of an experienced RNLI lifeguard, the young lad – who could not swim – was saved, writes Paul Strange.
The exhausted boy was reunited with his tearful mother, and then taken to hospital for a check-up.
Fortunately, he’s none the worst for his ordeal, which the lifeguard described as a ‘really close call’ .
The drama began last Thursday afternoon on a sandbar that’s exposed on the River Exe at low tide.
The area – near the Maer Rocks, opposite the volleyball court on the beach – is notorious for its strong currents. It was red flagged, meaning that it was dangerous to swim there.
Kate Berridge, a 27-year-old RNLI lifeguard from Teignmouth, was on routine patrol when she saw a boy disappear off the end of the sand bar. He started struggling in the water.
Kate immediately sprang into action. “I grabbed a ‘rescue tube’ and dolphin-dived though the shallow water between the beach and the sand bar before swimming the 20 to 30 metres he’d been swept out by the current,” she said.
“He was upright in the water but was bobbing, his head was going from above the water to underneath, by a few centimetres.
“As I reached him, he was completely submerged under the water. I had to dive down and grab him. I pulled him up and swam him back to shore. He was all right, but coughing and spluttering and exhausted by the ordeal.”
When asked how long would he have survived if he hadn’t been rescued, Kate said: “Seconds. He was pretty close to not being around, for sure.”
Simon Crayfourd, RNLI lifeguard manager, said: “Kate is an experienced lifeguard and for her to call this a close one, is pretty serious,”
“The area around the sand bar that Kate rescued the young boy from is red flagged, which indicates that it’s dangerous to swim there. We’d urge people to take note of the flags and the lifeguard’s warnings.”