Family sink up to waists on mudflat on bank holiday visit

June 1, 2010 | by | 0 Comments

This is the moment a family was rescued by helicopter after sinking up to their waists in dangerous mudflats at a seaside resort over the bank holiday weekend.

The three adults and six children became trapped in mud half-a-mile from shore at Weston-super-Mare, Somerset, as the oncoming tide rushed in towards them.

They struggled to free their legs but the children began to suffer from exhaustion and were developing hypothermia when they were spotted by a passerby.

The coastguard was summoned and rallied a rescue helicopter to airlift the casualties, from Birmingham, to shore.

Glyn Hayes, from the Weston-super-Mare RNLI, said: ”When we got there they were all suffering from the cold and the littlest one was near to hypothermia.  We had to administer first aid.

”We don’t know how long they were out there but in a matter of hours they wouldn’t have been able to cope with it.

”At this time of year the water, and therefore the mud, is exceptionally cold.

”If they’d been there long enough their lives would have been in danger – eventually they would have succumbed to the cold, and hypothermia kills.

”On top of that the tide was just beginning to come in and if they’d been there too much longer the water would have come in and they would have drowned.

”They knew they were in trouble and they were grateful for the rescue.”

The family had been trying to cross from Weston-super-Mare beach to neighbouring Brean beach across the River Axe when disaster struck.

It is a route locals know not to attempt because the deep and treacherous mud there has claimed lives before.

The coastguard were summoned at 5:34pm and two lifeboats were launched.

A team of five crewmen from the RNLI found the ”exhausted” family stuck up to their thighs in dark sludge.

As the lifeboats were beached the crews rallied an RAF helicopter to airlift five of the casualties to shore.

The lifeboats then waited to be refloated by the tide and returned the remaining casualties to their base at Birnbeck Island by 6:55pm.

RNLI helmsman Liam McDermott added: ”This is the most dangerous part of Weston Bay.

”It looks simple to cross but is impossible. If you are a local person and see anyone trying to cross here make sure you warn them of the dangers and call the emergency services if they get into difficulties.”

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