RNLI lifeguard battles large waves to rescue body boarder caught in rip current
A body boarder who found himself in difficulty in the sea off Croyde Beach this afternoon has thanked the RNLI lifeguard who saved him.
The man had been body boarding in a group of surfers and body boarders when they drifted out from the lifeguard surfing area. The body boarder got swept out of his depth by a rip current and was unable to get back to shore.
Senior Lifeguard Jack Hutchens, who is in his seventh season with the RNLI, said: ‘I saw most of the group get washed in by a couple of big waves except one body boarder who got caught in a rip current and swept quickly out of his depth. I paddled out on a rescue board and managed to rescue the man. He’d been struggling to get back to the shore as he was getting hit by some really big waves and couldn’t keep hold of his body board to help him keep afloat. I brought him back to the beach on the rescue board. He was extremely tired, but very grateful as he said he was worried he may have drowned if we hadn’t been there to help him.’
The incident happened at around 12.05pm, just an hour before low tide, which is when conditions at Croyde tend to be more difficult.
Lifeguard Supervisor Matt Whitley added: ‘The surf was well over head height at the time and so it was a difficult rescue. Our lifeguards all have extensive training and Jack did a great job bringing the body boarder who was struggling in the conditions back to safety. Even the most experienced people can get caught out in the sea and so we always recommend people to go to a lifeguarded beach.’
Croyde is one of three beaches in Devon that will operate a daily lifeguard service this October half term along with Woolacombe and Bantham.
In Cornwall, there will be lifeguard patrols at Porthtowan, Perranporth, Praa Sands, Gwithian, Porthmeor, Sennen, Fistral, Watergate Bay, Towan and Mawgan Porth, Polzeath, Widemouth and Summerleaze.
With dangerous sea conditions predicted this weekend for the start of half term the RNLI is advising people tempted to watch the stormy conditions unfold to do so from a safe distance.
The charity advises as part of its Respect the Water campaign that you do not enter the water if you see someone in trouble, but alert a lifeguard or call 999 or 112 and ask for the coastguard.
You can find out more about how to stay safe in and around the water by visiting RNLI.org/RespectTheWater.
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The RNLI charity saves lives at sea. Its volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service around the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland coasts. The RNLI operates over 238 lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland and more than 240 lifeguard units on beaches around the UK and Channel Islands. The RNLI is independent of Coastguard and government and depends on voluntary donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824, its lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved over 142,700 lives.