Exmouth RNLI volunteers rescue two girls
Exmouth RNLI volunteer inshore lifeboat crew were tasked by Brixham Coastguards on Saturday 9th October to reports of two persons in the water at Dawlish at 6.46pm.
The two girls, aged 15 and 16 from Exeter had been walking along the sea wall on their way to visit a friend, when a large wave swept them into the sea. A passer by was able to throw a torpedo life float to one of the girls but due to the rough sea conditions they were unable to pull them out
The Exmouth inshore lifeboat George Bearman reached the casualties within six minutes as the crew were already out tasked to a rigid inflatable boat (RIB) that had parted from it’s mooring.
Giles White, Andy Smith and Andy Williams battled in the darkening light against big seas with 8 – 10 foot waves.
Helmsman Giles said: “Conditions were very poor, the light was fading fast and the large easterly swell which had been building over the last few days was breaking against the sea wall and bouncing back slapping the incoming waves, so about 10 metres off there were great explosions of water all along the sea wall towards and beyond Dawlish. All this was made worse by the very high spring tides.”
“Six minutes after our tasking I spotted a girl in the water inside the breaking seas 10 metres from the Dawlish sea wall. I shouted to the crew there is someone in the water and at the same time could hear loud screams from the sea wall. A large crowd had gathered and were waving frantically. I paused for a second to assess the scene and determine my best route in. I shouted we will have to be quick as the risk of capsize and being smashed against the sea wall was very great. As I circled and made my approach from the east I noticed a torpedo buoy had been thrown to the girl and it was snagged somewhere in my line of approach. Crowds were still screaming at us. As I rounded up into sea there were the two girls, one holding the other who was barely at the surface, we pulled up alongside and the two other crew members reached for the semi conscious girl. I reached for the other more conscious girl.”
“We cleared the breaking waves and the engine was vibrating wildly, we had picked up a rope. I gained some more sea room and stopped the engine to clear the rope. It was too dangerous to land the girls at Dawlish and we headed for Exmouth at best speed. “
The casualties were transferred to waiting ambulance and taken to hospital.
Kevin Riley, Lifeboat Operations Manager said; “The emergency services involved all worked together seamlessly to help these young girls. I’d like to commend the great teamwork from the three volunteer lifeboat crew because they worked perfectly as a team, and the result was a rescue of two girls in fast fading light and very difficult sea conditions. We must also thank the young lads who threw the torpedo lifeline, a cracking throw enabling one girl to hang onto it and hold her friend until rescue arrived.”