Belfast Telegraph

Teen girl saved from rising tide was close to being swept away

By Donna Deeney

A teenage girl was just moments from being swept out to sea when the coastguard hoisted her to safety, rescuers have said.

The 16-year-old was climbing rocks above the beach with three friends when they got into difficulty.

While three of the group managed to reach the beach and safety, the young girl from Ballymoney, Co Antrim, was stranded at the bottom of the cliff, totally exhausted and with the rising tide fast approaching.

Chris Little, station officer for Coleraine Coastguard, was involved in the rescue and said the girl was in a very distressed state by the time the team reached her.

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, he said: "Two boys and two girls, all teenagers, got into bother but three of them managed to make their way to Castlerock beach, although one of them had to swim to do it.

"The fourth did try swimming but was forced to go back and get on to the ledge of the cliff.

"The other girl in the party made her way to the house of a woman. This lady also gave the girl a warm shower and raised the alarm, but we were also contacted by people who had come across the boys on the beach.

"The tide was rising all the time, and by the time the rescue was finished the tide was rising over the platform the girl was on so she was in danger of being swept away by the tide.

"There was a spring tide which means it comes in far and goes out far so if you are stuck at the base of a cliff, the last thing you want to be dealing with is a spring tide, because it is going to come up around you."

Mr Little explained how the dramatic rescue unfolded.

"The lifeboat crew managed to put two people on shore to see if they could help her but unfortunately she was so tired, hypothermic and distressed that she couldn't go out by sea.

"We then lowered one of our rope rescue technicians down the cliff who put her into a rescue harness and took her up the 100ft to the top where she was looked after by us and then sent to hospital.

"Her friend who had swum to shore was waiting on her. We sent both girls to hospital as a precaution because they both had swallowed a lot of sea water," he added.

While this rescue had a successful outcome, Mr Little said summer is a busy time for the volunteers at Coleraine Coastguard. He advised anyone interested in climbing rocks to do so under the right conditions.

He added: "We have had quite a number of incidents this year along the North Coast involving people falling on rocks or getting stuck on cliffs.

"Anyone who wants to explore the coastline needs to do it as part of a supervised, organised outdoor pursuits with properly qualified instructors who will tell you what to wear and where to go.

"No one should set off on their own to explore rocks - it is very dangerous and if you see anyone in bother they should ring 999 and ask for the coastguard."

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