September 19 2014 Latest news:
Wednesday, September 3, 2014
Warning to would-be swimmers and surfers after rescue leaves woman and boy fighting for their lives
North Devon’s lifeguards have been kept busy this summer, having already responded to more incidents than last year with two months of the season still to go.
Last week, a nine-year-old boy and a woman in her late forties were left fighting for their lives after being rescued and taken to North Devon District Hospital by RAF Sea King helicopter.
That was one of 320 incidents clocked at Woolacombe beach since the beginning of May this year – up from 318 to the end of October in 2013.
There have also been 177 at Croyde, compared to 194 last year, and 81 at Westward Ho! – five more than last year.
Sandymere has seen 36 incidents after 27 last summer.
RNLI lifeguard supervisor Matt Whitley said that strong rip currents had been a major factor in the increase.
“It’s certainly been a busy summer for the lifeguards on the North Devon beaches,” he said. “We enjoyed a lengthy spell of sunshine at the beginning of the summer, which saw lots of visitors to the coast, and changes to the make-up of the beaches after the winter storms so that we have some very strong rip currents to contend with.
“With the schools still on their summer holidays, the beaches remain very busy and we’d encourage people to head to one of the four lifeguarded beaches in North Devon.”
Lifeguard patrols on all four beaches will continue until September 28, with weekend patrols throughout October and October half term.