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Sunderland RNLI and Coastguard volunteers save 2 men from drowning in River Wear

Lifeboats News Release

Volunteers from Sunderland RNLI were this evening part of a multi-agency rescue operation which resulted in two men being saved from drowning in the River Wear after falling from a stolen fishing vessel.

Sunderland RNLI - Atlantic 85 inshore lifeboat

RNLI/Paul Nicholson

Sunderland RNLI - Atlantic 85 inshore lifeboat

Shortly after 6:45pm this evening (2 November) Officers based at Humber Coastguard received a ‘999’ emergency call from the owner of the fishing vessel reporting that his vessel had been stolen and crashed into another vessel near Sunderland Fish Quay.

Sunderland RNLI volunteer’s pagers were immediately activated and the launch of both inshore lifeboats was approved by the on duty launching authority. In addition Coastguards also dispatched Officers from Sunderland Coastguard Rescue team along with Paramedics from Northeast Ambulance Service.

Paul Nicholson, Helmsman at Sunderland RNLI said: ‘Thankfully a member of the Coastguard rescue team entered the water and managed to keep the first casualty afloat until our volunteers arrived on-board the D Class inshore lifeboat.’

Shortly after recovering the first man from the water; the second casualty decided to jump into the river from the stolen fishing vessel in an attempt to swim ashore to avoid arrest by Police. Lifeboat volunteers quickly managed to get hold of the man and pull him from the water to safety on-board the lifeboat.’

The two men were immediately transferred back to Sunderland marina on-board the D Class inshore lifeboat while the Atlantic 85 crew ensured the stolen boat was tied up and secure.

Once at Sunderland Marina the two patients were treated by RNLI volunteers until Paramedics arrived to take over the treatment before transporting them both to Sunderland Royal Hospital.

Paul added: ‘Thankfully on this occasion a rapid response by Coastguard and RNLI volunteers prevented a potentially fatal accident as both casualties were struggling to keep them afloat in the water. Had the owner of the boat not seen this happening when he did; this incident could have easily ended being a very tragic accident.’

Shortly before 7:30pm the lifeboat crew were released from the incident and cleared to return to the lifeboat station where the boats and equipment were washed off and cleaned ready for the next emergency call.

If anyone has any further information about this incident or the circumstances leading up to it; please contact Northumbria Police to help with their enquires.


Notes to editors

• Sunderland RNLI Lifeboat Station is the oldest continually operation lifeboat in the United Kingdom. It was originally opened in 1800 before being adopted by the RNLI in 1865.

• Sunderland RNLI Lifeboat Station operates its own website where supporters can keep up to date with station specific activities.

• Sunderland RNLI Lifeboat Station has a profile on Twitter (SunderlandRNLI) and Facebook (RNLI Sunderland) where supporters can keep up to date with station specific activities and news.

• Sunderland RNLI Lifeboat Station operates two inshore type lifeboats: An Atlantic 85 8.3m inflatable capable of 35 knots and a D Class (IB-1) 4.5m inflatable capable of 25 knots.

RNLI media contacts

For more information please telephone:

Paul Nicholson, Sunderland RNLI Press Officer on 07957 494 077 or email -

Key facts about the RNLI

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution is the charity that saves lives at sea. Our volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service in the United Kingdom and Ireland from 238 lifeboat stations, including four along the River Thames and inland lifeboat stations at Loch Ness, Lough Derg, Enniskillen, Carrybridge and Lough Ree. Additionally the RNLI has more than 1,000 lifeguards on over 240 beaches around the UK and operates a specialist flood rescue team, which can respond anywhere across the UK and Ireland when inland flooding puts lives at risk.

The RNLI relies on public donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. As a charity it is separate from, but works alongside, government-controlled and funded coastguard services. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824 our lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved at least 140,000 lives. Volunteers make up 95% of the charity, including 4,600 volunteer lifeboat crew members and 3,000 volunteer shore crew. Additionally, tens of thousands of other dedicated volunteers raise funds and awareness, give safety advice, and help in our museums, shops and offices.

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