Quick thinking off duty RNLI lifeguard and surfers save family in trouble

A Woolacombe teenager has thanked an off-duty RNLI lifeguard and other surfers who saved her life after she was dragged out to sea by a rip current at Croyde.

Beth Tack,17, and her stepdad Sam Stribling were paddling at Croyde Beach last Monday evening when a powerful rip current began pulling them away from the shore towards rocks.

They tried to swim back to the shore but were soon struggling to keep their heads above the water.

RNLI lifeguard Beau Bromham had finished patrols for the day and was helping with Croyde Surf Club at the beach when he spotted the family in difficulty.

He headed over to them on his surf board and found three nearby surfers had already managed to reach the pair and let them hold on to their boards, but they were also being pulled out by the rip current.

Beth said: “I was playing around in the surf, we weren’t very far out; the water was only up to my waist.

“I didn’t realise we were in a rip current right away, I just noticed that suddenly I couldn’t touch the bottom, it happened in seconds. I tried to grab on to my stepdad, but the rip pulled us apart.

“I was really panicking then, I started to wave my hands and shout for help, but I could hardly keep my head out of the water.”

Beau managed to reassure Beth and put her onto his surf board before paddling her back to shore. He returned to the other surfers who all helped to bring Sam back to the beach together.

Beth added: “I want to thank Beau and all the surfers who came to help us that night. If the lifeguard and surfers hadn’t got to me when they did, I don’t think I would be here.”

Beau said: “The rip current at that end of the beach is really powerful; it can drag people out to sea within seconds.

“When I got to Beth she was really panicking so I tried to calm her down and talk her through what was happening.

“Luckily there were surfers nearby who got to Beth and Sam really quickly and we all managed to work together to make sure they got back to the beach safely.”

The RNLI has urged people to swim at lifeguarded beaches during the 10am-6pm patrol hours.

If you do get caught in a rip current, the charity’s advice is:

* Stay calm – don’t panic.

* If you can stand, wade don’t swim.

* Keep hold of your board or inflatable to help you float.

* Raise your hand and shout for help.

* Never try to swim directly against the rip or you’ll get exhausted.

* Swim parallel to the beach until free of the rip, then make for shore.

If you see anyone else in trouble, alert the lifeguards or call 999 and ask for the coastguard.

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