Sandhaven RNLI lifeguard consecutively rescues two men from a strong rip current

Lifeguards News Release

Sandhaven (Mowbray) RNLI lifeguard Matt Johnson carried out back-to-back rescues of two men struggling against a rip current on Wednesday 5 July.

RNLI rescue board on the beach

RNLI/Mark Himsworth

RNLI rescue board

Around 1:50pm, RNLI lifeguard Matt Johnson rescued two men struggling to get back to shore against the strong rip currents outside the red and yellow flags at Sandhaven (Mowbray) beach.

Matt said: ‘The two men were both approximately 500m offshore and were swimming in high waves in the black and white chequered beach flag zone.

‘This area is designated to water sports such as surfing and stand-up paddleboarding.’

The lifeguard monitored the men while out on the water doing some training, when one of them signalled to him for help.

Matt continued: ‘The first man was out of breath, tired, and couldn’t make it back to the beach.’

The casualty held onto the lifeguard’s rescue board and was aided back to shore.

In the process of helping the first casualty back to the beach, the charity’s lifeguard noticed the second man, who had been swimming similarly to where the first casualty was, also appeared to be struggling to stay afloat in the strong rip.

The lifeguard quickly paddled out a second time to retrieve the man and safely brought him to an area of water where he could stand.

The two men received welfare checks back at the lifeguard unit.

They were offered safety advice on potential harm they could have encountered such as inhaling or swallowing substantial amounts of water.

The casualties were provided with information on secondary drowning and advised to seek medical assistance if they showed any signs of injury.

RNLI lifeguards remind members of the public to always visit a lifeguarded beach and to swim between the red and yellow flags.  

Matt added: ‘In a coastal emergency call 999 and ask for the Coastguard or, if you are inland, ask for the Fire and Rescue service.

‘If you get into trouble in the water, remember to Float to Live: tilt your head back with ears submerged and try to relax and control your breathing. Use your hands to help you stay afloat. Once stable, swim to safety if you can or call for help just like the two men caught in the rip current did.’

For beach safety information and tips, please visit:  

Notes to editors

For information on beach flags and signs, please visit:

RNLI lifeguards are currently operating on the following Tyne & Wear beaches seven-days-a-week between 10am and 6pm:  

  • Whitley Bay

  • Whitley bay North

  • Cullercoats

  • Tynemouth Longsands

  • Kind Edward’s Bay

  • Sandhaven (Centre Beach)

  • Sandhaven (Mowbray)

  • Seaburn

  • Cats and Dogs

  • Roker

RNLI picture caption  

The photograph shows an RNLI rescue board on the beach. Photo credit: Mark Himsworth.

RNLI media contacts   

For more information, please contact Toni Carr, RNLI Media Engagement Placement on 07890 402106 or [email protected] or Clare Hopps, Regional Media Officer on 07824 518641 or [email protected]

Key facts about the RNLI

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 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.

Learn more about the RNLI

For more information please visit the RNLI website or Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. News releases, videos and photos are available on the News Centre.

Contacting the RNLI - public enquiries

Members of the public may contact the RNLI on 0300 300 9990 (UK) or 1800 991802 (Ireland) or by email.