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Father says teenage son and pal saved him when sea ‘turned ugly’

08:55 25 July 2014

Michael Rutty with his son Mason.
Michael got into trouble swimming in the sea off Lowestoft.

Picture: James Bass

Michael Rutty with his son Mason. Michael got into trouble swimming in the sea off Lowestoft. Picture: James Bass

Archant Norfolk © 2014

Two teenagers have been hailed as heroes after rescuing a man from the sea.

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Michael Rutty, 44, praised the pair for dragging him to safety after he got caught by a rip current off South Beach in Lowestoft – leaving him gasping for breath and lucky to be alive.

Mr Rutty, who required hospital treatment after his ordeal, said he was grateful to his 15-year-old son Mason and his friend Liam Mirgaux, 16, for their brave efforts to haul him to shore after “the sea turned ugly” and he was left struggling against a current which was pulling him away from the shore.

Coastguards said the incident highlighted the dangers posed by strong tides along the east coast – and urged people to “keep safe near water” during the summer holidays.

The drama unfolded just before 7pm last Friday when Mr Rutty, who works as a bus driver, went for a swim south of Claremont Pier.

He said that one moment he was stood in the water speaking to one of his son’s friends, Mason Hugman, and the next he was in difficulty and being dragged out to sea.

“I went to put my foot down and could not stand,” said Mr Rutty, of Kent Road, Lowestoft. “I was effectively stuck and it was like being on a treadmill – I was swimming but could not get anywhere.”

“I am an OK swimmer, but we got caught in a rip current – the sea turned ugly. I was in a blind panic; I didn’t know where Mason was so I shouted to my son to call for help.”

Mr Rutty said Mr Hugman managed to get back to the shore, while his son ran into the sea to help him.

“My son said to grab his hand, but I was dragging him in, so I told him to go back and phone for help,” he said. “I think I went under a couple of times. Then, before I knew it, Mason and Liam were on me and pulling me onto the shore. I collapsed with total exhaustion.

“I am extremely lucky to still be here – and these two lads are heroes.”

Six officers from the Lowestoft and Southwold Coastguard rescue teams were called to the beach after the alarm was raised and Mr Rutty was taken to the James Paget University Hospital at Gorleston by ambulance. He was released later after tests.

A Coastguard spokesman urged people heading to the beach over the summer to take care at all times.

He said: “This incident highlights the risks to swimmers at all times from rip currents.”

The warning comes after the RNLI this week issued a warning to beach-goers as it launched a seaside safety awareness campaign called Respect the Water.

It said five people died in accidents on the East Anglian coast last year and another 69 owed their lives to lifeboat crews and lifeguards after being rescued from the sea.

Have you got a Lowestoft story? Email mark.boggis@archant.co.uk

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