‘Let no more die’ - Urgent safety pleas after weekend of tragedy and drama on our coast

Richard McGonagle, front, watch manager, and fire fighters from the Carrow Fire Station, from left,

Richard McGonagle, front, watch manager, and fire fighters from the Carrow Fire Station, from left, David Fraser, Chris Watering, and Mark Westgate, warn people to stay safe near open water this summer. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2016

Urgent safety warnings are today issued after three days of tragedy and drama around our coast.

A 54-year-old man died after getting caught in a rip tide and being pulled unconscious from the water at Sea Palling on Saturday morning.

Members of the public and RNLI lifeguards managed to resuscitate his swimming companion, a 26-year-old man who had also gone into cardiac arrest, and he was airlifted to hospital in a 'very serious condition'.

That tragedy followed calls to the coastguard on Friday night where three men had been seen jumping into the water at Lowestoft, between the pier head and the lifeboat station.

The three, two of whom suffered cuts and grazes, told coastguard officers they had been drinking for most of the day and that one of them could not swim.

The previous evening student paramedic Lucy Hammond dragged an unconscious swimmer from the sea at Cromer and started giving him cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) until help arrived.

The man, who has since been named as Ben Marsh, was airlifted to the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital in a critical condition. His mother, Jackie Marsh, said on Saturday that he was 'stable.'

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Meanwhile, a major sea operation was taking place yesterday to try to find a person who had got into difficulty while the water at Camber Sands, in East Sussex. Two other people were in a life-threatening condition after being rescued during the same incident.

Elsewhere in our region the body of a mother-of-three, named locally as Leanne Gordon, was pulled out of the River Great Ouse, in Bedford, on Friday morning.

She had been picnicking with her children on its banks. A dive unit from Carrow Fire Station, Norwich, was among rescue teams sent to help.

The two East Anglian tragedies were among at least eight reported drownings in the UK over an eight-day period.

And, with the school summer holidays under way and warm weather forecast to last into this week, national drowning prevention charity, the Royal Life Saving Society UK, has issued an urgent appeal for people to take note of simple safety messages.

Figures show that on average July and August are the worst months for drowning, with most victims being male.

Mike Dunn, the charity's deputy director of education and research, said: 'I urge people to listen to our safety advice and never swim in non-lifeguarded areas unsuitable for swimming.

'It may seem an inviting way to cool off, but there are deadly dangers such as extremely cold temperatures, unpredictable currents, uneven depths and unknown debris or objects people can get injured on, or caught in.

'We want people to enjoy the water and make the most of the weather, but safely.

'Please stay safe and don't let yourself or a loved one become a tragic statistic this summer.'

Roy Harold, Norfolk's chief fire officer, said the results of coroners' inquests for 2015, released earlier this month, listed 13 drownings in the county, ranking Norfolk second in a grim national league.

'We have a lot of lovely water here, we have a lot of visitors and, if you put the two together in sunshine, it can be a bad combination,' said Mr Harold.

'We don't want to be killjoys, but we want to make sure people are aware of the risks.'