RNLI lifeguards rescue young girl swept out to sea at Perran Sands beach

Lifeguards News Release

Perran Sands RNLI lifeguards responded to an incident on Sunday lunchtime (12 July) involving a young girl who was dragged out to sea whilst swimming, struggling to keep her head above the water.

RNLI/Ben Gardiner

Perran Sands lifeguard Samson Tellam

RNLI lifeguards Tom McRitchie and Samson Tellam were alerted to an incident on Sunday lunchtime with an ebbing tide in what appeared to be very time critical. Samson whistled over to the bathers who were drifting outside the red and yellow flags but noticed a young girl struggling to swim. The young girl suddenly lost her footing due to the drop in the sand bank and began to drift rapidly. Perran Sands lifeguards quickly launched the inshore rescue boat (IRB) to her aid.

The young girl was now in increased difficulty, struggling to keep her head above the water and was panicking shouting for help. Her head started to submerge when they pulled up next to her fighting through the breaking waves. RNLI lifeguard, Samson Tellam, reached for the young girl and held on to her whilst another wave broke over their heads. Sam lost his footing due to the set waves causing the IRB to rock and fell out of the boat. He held on to the young girl and kept her head above the water. He tried to calm her down whilst reassuring her that the boat just needed to turn around and get into a safe position to recover them.

Senior lifeguard Tom McRitchie, at the helm of the IRB, took another hit from the set waves rolling through but was then able to reverse back to Samson and the young girl. They both climbed into the IRB and were safely returned to shore. The young girl was reunited with her family whilst the lifeguards gave her a thorough assessment due to the amount of water she may have swallowed. They advised her parents to take her to hospital due to the uncertainty as to whether she swallowed any water or breathed it in and explained the potential risks of secondary drowning.

Senior lifeguard Tom McRicthie says, ‘With increasingly busy beaches, flash rip currents and uneven sand banks, please always swim between the red and yellow flags. We’d like to urge people to never enter the water alone especially young children, and please keep an eye on your family at all times, both in the water and on the beach.’

Anyone planning a visit to the coast should remember and follow RNLI safety advice:

  • Have a plan – check the weather forecast, tide times and read local hazard signage
  • Keep a close eye on your family – on the beach and in the water
  • Do not allow your family to swim or surf alone
  • Do not use inflatables
  • If you fall into the water unexpectedly, FLOAT TO LIVE, fight your instinct to thrash around, lean back, extend your arms and legs, and FLOAT
  • In an emergency dial 999 and ask for the Coastguard


Notes to Editors

Media contacts
For more information please contact Becky Bright, Media Engagement Placement on Becky_Bright@rnli.org.uk or 07375855897 or Amy Caldwell, Regional Media Manager, on Amy_Caldwell@rnli.org.uk or 07920818807, or RNLI Press Office on 01202 336789 or via pressoffice@rnli.org.uk .

RNLI/Ben Gardiner

Perran Sands lifeguard Tom McRitchie

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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, in a normal year, 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.

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