Lifeboat crews slam 'negligent' sea walkers

PUBLISHED: 12:00 15 June 2012

Two people going for a walk in Marine Lake during the storms. photo by Sue Sayer.

Two people going for a walk in Marine Lake during the storms. photo by Sue Sayer.

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LIFEBOAT crews have slammed the 'silly and negligent' actions of two walkers who RNLI chiefs say are lucky to be alive after wading through dangerous storm waves.

LIFEBOAT crews have slammed the ‘silly and negligent’ actions of two walkers who RNLI chiefs say are lucky to be alive after wading through dangerous storm waves.

Mercury reader Sue Sayer snapped this shot of a pair of walkers in Weston’s Marine Lake on Friday, a day which saw heavy rain, rough seas and gale-force winds batter the seafront.

Weston RNLI spokesman Glyn Hayes said: “It is obvious to everyone seeing this that those two people do not understand the power and violence of the sea when it is crashing onto the shore.

“They are extremely lucky to still be alive and in behaving like this they run the risk of putting the lives of our volunteer crews at risk if we had to go out and try to rescue them.

“We in the RNLI have seen too many occasions when people who do this sort of thing run into serious trouble.”

Lifeboat operations manager Pete Holder said the conditions were the worst crews have seen since a storm in 1991 which damaged the RNLI’s launch slipway and parts of the seafront’s defences.

Bev Haigh, watch manager for Swansea Coastguard, which performs rescues in the Bristol Channel alongside RNLI volunteers, spoke of her disbelief at their behaviour.

She said: “I was appalled when I saw this picture. I couldn’t believe that two people could be that silly. It is just stupidity, that’s the only word to describe it.

“On a day like that there is a very good chance a wave could break and sweep them away.

“If there was no-one around to see them get into difficulty, the next thing we would be doing is finding their bodies.

“It was a very stupid and negligent thing to do.

Ms Haigh pointed to an incident in Porthcawl in South Wales which saw two fishermen swept away by a high wave as evidence of the danger posed by rough seas.

She said: “We never found them. We have had so many incidents where people have been washed off proms and walkways by what people call ‘rogue waves’. But there is no such thing as rogue or freak waves, just waves. If you can see they are breaking, don’t walk there.”

Ms Haigh said crews have to assess how safe it is to launch in rough seas and estimated that calling a helicopter instead of using boats could cost up to £5,000 each time.

She added: “Even then, it is very, very difficult to find them in those conditions.

“Without a shadow of a doubt they could have died and it just depends on how quickly we can get rescuers to the scene to find them before.

“We do this job because we enjoy it but it does make me quite angry that they would be willing to put themselves at risk and potentially put others at risk to save them.”

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