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Teenager plucked from the sea in Seatown was minutes from death
A TEENAGER had to be plucked from the sea by the Portland Coastguard helicopter at Seatown – just minutes from death.
Coastguards and rescue services have said it was ‘unbelievable’ that thrill-seekers were braving the huge seas last weekend as storm St Jude hit the Jurassic coast.
The 17-year-old boy, who was staying in Chideock, was taken to Dorset County Hospital last Sunday suffering the effects of swallowing a lot of seawater.
Portland Coastguard watch officer Steve Williams, from Bridport, said: “He was taken to Dorset County Hospital mainly due to ingestion of seawater.
“He had breathed in quite a bit of seawater and that can lead to complications after they have been rescued.
“There were three lads, one of them decided it was too rough to go in, the next one went but then decided it was too rough and got out but the other one couldn’t get out.”
Mr Williams said exposure was also a problem, even with the sea at around 14 to 15 degrees Celsius, casualties could be in trouble within half an hour.
He added: “But we got this chap out very quickly.”
Graham Turner, coastguard station officer at Lyme Regis said: “People do not realise the danger and the power of the waves.
“The boy was incredibly lucky that the helicopter managed to get there so quickly.
“If it had come just five minutes later, the boy would have been history and it would have been a recovery not a rescue mission.”
The arrival of the Portland Coastguard rescue helicopter in minutes has raised concerns that its loss could have meant the difference between life and death.
Megan Tuck, a receptionist at the Golden Cap holiday centre, said: “Someone came in and told us that two young men had been swimming and one was struggling.
“They tried to throw out the lifebelt but the wind was too strong to get it out to him.
“We called the coastguard and the helicopter arrived and flew over and pulled him out of the sea and took him to hospital.
“Thank goodness it was the helicopter from Portland as it only took minutes to arrive.”
West Bay Coastguard station manager Mark Collins said they were called out to East Beach in West Bay on Sunday after boys were spotted jumping in and out of the surf.
He said: “We tell them we have had deaths there before and tell them nature is far stronger than they are in those conditions.
“It is unbelievable with all the warnings that people give they are still doing it.
“It is almost suicide, when you have ten to 15 foot waves coming in and you think it is a good fun to jump in the surf.
“If you had a long gentle sloped beach it might be alright but here anything past your knees and you are gone. They had the lifeboat out in that sea at Seatown, which I should imagine is right on the end of their envelope of sea conditions. It is a risk and you have the guys on the beach who, depending on how far out they were, would have had to attempt a rescue as well.
“That is what we are trained to do but we would rather not do it in extreme conditions when it is not necessary, when they are putting themselves in danger.”
In Lyme Regis reports that a man had been washed off the Cobb on Saturday night sparked a 90-minute search by the Portland Coastguard helicopter and Lyme lifeboat. The alarm was raised by a couple who saw a photographer, but when they looked back he was gone.
The man subsequently came forward to say he was safe after realising the search was for him.
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