Warning after teen swept out to sea

COASTGUARDS at Felixstowe today issued an early season warning to beach users about inflatables after a teenage girl was swept out to sea in a small rubber dinghy.

COASTGUARDS at Felixstowe today issued an early season warning to beach users about inflatables after a teenage girl was swept out to sea in a small rubber dinghy.

Felixstowe Coastguard rescue team was immediately tasked to attend the incident, along with Harwich inshore lifeboat, after friends of the girl raised the alarm.

One youngster told Thames Coastguard that her 14-year-old friend was floating out to sea and they could not reach her.

HM Coastguard rescue officer Liam Sagi, part of the Felixstowe Coastguard team, said: “The girl had won the rubber dinghy earlier that morning and the group of teenagers decided to take the dinghy out.

“Unfortunately, the extremely strong winds and tidal conditions quickly began to take the dinghy further off shore and away from her friends.

“One friend decided to enter the cold water to attempt to recover the girl but was sensibly stopped by a passer-by who also decided to call 999 for the coastguard.”

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The incident happened at about 1.40pm on Saturday .

Felixstowe Coastguard arrived on scene to find the dinghy and its occupant had made it ashore, extremely wet and cold.

The two girls who had been in the water were treated for cold and given advice by the officers.

“The girl was extremely lucky to have made it ashore and the consequences could have been significantly worse had she fell into the water,” said Mr Sagi.

He said using inflatables at the beach could be dangerous and extreme caution should be used.

“It is very easy to be swept away from the shore and it is strongly recommended that beach-goers tether their inflatables on shore, or have someone to hold a line, stay within their depth and take note of the weather conditions,” he added.

Have you been caught out in a dangerous situation off the coast? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk