Six teenagers who tried to swim across the River Exe on Sunday (June 9) had to be rescued by Exmouth lifeboat.

They had gone into the river in the area of Mamhead Slipway and tried to swim across to Dawlish Warren, but were caught in the strong currents. Two ended up clinging to a buoy in the river; the other four made it to Pole Sands where they were then stranded by the rising tide.

Exmouth RNLI was alerted at about 5pm. A group of volunteer crew who were taking part in a training exercise on the river were redirected to the incident. Shortly before they arrived, two passing off-duty volunteer lifeboat crew arrived in their own boat and pulled the first two casualties from the water. After making sure they were safe, the three volunteer inshore lifeboat crew went to the aid of the other four teenagers from Pole Sands and brought them back to the safety of the slipway.

(Image: Tim Thorn / RNLI)

The lifeboat volunteers had been undertaking a mud rescue training exercise with volunteer HM Coastguard colleagues from the Dawlish & South Devon teams. Because of this, they were already close to the teenagers and the lifeboat was able to reach them quickly.

A spokesperson for Exmouth RNLI said: “This was a satisfying outcome to a situation that could easily have ended very badly. 

“The River Exe has very strong and potentially dangerous currents and is also a very busy boating channel.  Attempting to swim across it at any time is dangerous, but trying to do so during a period of such strong tidal flow was very dangerous indeed and could easily have ended in a tragic outcome.  It was lucky that our volunteers were already on the river and that two off-duty Exmouth RNLI crew were also in the vicinity.”