Warning after girl is almost buried alive on Caister beach

A girl inside a dangerously deep hole on Caister beach that prompted Coastwatch to intervene. A girl inside a dangerously deep hole on Caister beach that prompted Coastwatch to intervene.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014
11:53 AM

A warning has gone out after a girl was almost buried alive on Caister beach.

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Emergency services at the scene on Caister beach filling in the hole. Picture: James BassEmergency services at the scene on Caister beach filling in the hole. Picture: James Bass

A seaside tragedy was narrowly avoided over the bank holiday weekend when Coastwatch volunteers stepped in to save a young girl.

The youngster, believed to be 10 or 11 years old, ‘disappeared’ inside a 4ft deep hole that her family had dug in the sand.

Fearing that the sides of the hole could collapse at any minute, a watchkeeper from Caister’s National Coastwatch Institution (NCI) stepped in and advised her family to get her out.

“We couldn’t stand there and watch it going on because we know what could have happened,” said volunteer Alan Perry, who spoke with the girl’s father and advised him to fill the hole in.

The family were visiting the east coast on holiday when the near-drama unfolded on Saturday.

Speaking yesterday and warning both visitors and locals to stay safe on the beach, Mr Perry said: “People, especially those on holiday, don’t always see the dangers in front of them. We were up in the watchtower on Saturday and we’d been keeping an eye on them, but it was when the girl got in and you couldn’t see her that we knew we had to step in.

“It got to the point where you couldn’t see her when she stood up.

“If it had collapsed then she would have been in a lot of trouble. Sand that far down is very compacted and, if she had been digging a tunnel which a lot of kids do, she would have been buried alive.”

Mr Perry said the NCI can only offer advice and, on this occasion, they family listened.

“We don’t want to be ruin people’s holidays and we don’t want to stop children playing on the beach, we don’t want to lecture,” he said. “But we have to keep people safe.”

In August 2011, 15-year-old Paige Anderson, who was on holiday with her family from Kent, was airlifted to hospital after a 7ft hole she had been digging on Caister beach collapsed without warning. Onlookers, including members of the public, police, paramedics, lifeboat crews and coastwatch volunteers, used their bare hands and shovels to reach her.

The youngster had stopped breathing by the time they pulled her out. Paramedic Mark Little was able to clear the sand from her mouth and resuscitate her before she was airlifted to the James Paget University Hospital in Gorleston.

Caister NCI, which is based in the lookout at Caister Lifeboat Station in Tan Lane, was established in 2011 following news that Great Yarmouth’s coastguard station was closing. Equipped with shipping AIS (Automatic Identification System), a weather station, marine radios and CCTV, the 20-strong group of volunteers keep their eyes and ears on the beach all year round.

Have you been helped by Coastwatch volunteers? Email lauren.rogers@archant.co.uk

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