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Plucked from the rising tide

A YOUNG child was among 14 people saved from the swirling tides of the Dee Estuary yesterday, after lifeboat crews were called out to two separate rescues close to Hilbre Island.

A YOUNG child was among 14 people saved from the swirling tides of the Dee Estuary yesterday, after lifeboat crews were called out to two separate rescues close to Hilbre Island.

Officials last night condemned the "foolish" people who ignored tide warnings and had to be plucked to safety after becoming trapped, warning the incidents could have escalated into something far more serious.

The three-year-old girl fell into the sea as her father desperately tried to scramble to safety from fast-moving tides in the estuary.

She was taken to hospital suffering from hypothermia after the dramatic lifeboat rescue. Her father, who was carrying the child on his shoulders, had collapsed and dropped her into the sea, in his desperate attempt to reach dry land.

The drama unfolded at lunchtime, when a group of six adults and four children, aged between three and 12, were pulled from the sea and taken in shore to be treated for hypothermia.

The three-year-old, who has not been named, was later taken to Arrowe Park Hospital as a precautionary measure.

The group, who also had five dogs which were rescued, were from the Chester area. In a separate incident, which happened almost simultaneously, two adults and two children also became trapped. They were rescued after the lifeboat pulled them from rocks.

Emergency crews last night said it was only the quick-thinking of the Hilbre Island ranger that averted a major tragedy.

And they hit out at the "foolishness" of people who continue to ignore tide warning signs on their way out to the islands.

Geoffrey Hanson, spokesman for West Kirby and Hoylake lifeboat, said: "The recent tragedy at Morecambe, where a father and his son drowned, shows how these incidents can escalate and lead to loss of life.

"Acting in the way we saw this weekend is very foolish. People do not realise how fast the tide can come in - one minute it is around the ankles, the next it is up to the waist."

He added: "There were 14 people in all, as well as five dogs, so it was a big job.

"The first group was between Hilbre and Middle Eye and the second were some distance away between Middle and Little Eye.

"One crewman had to go into the water to help the second group who were stuck on rocks.

"It was an unusual job to have so many in danger at once and we were lucky it was not more serious."

A spokesman for the Coastguard said: "Fortunately, no one was seriously injured and the youngster was taken to hospital only as a precautionary measure.

"But it could have been much worse. The tide times are available from any number of sources - including a board where these visitors will have walked straight past.

"There have been several potential disastrous incidents over the past few months and it is largely down to people's foolishness and ignorance.

"Once walkers are out in the estuary, there is nowhere to run. People must look and check the times.

"The ranger at Hilbre warned us that he could see people who had left it very late and were going to be in trouble.

"By the time we notified lifeboat staff at West Kirby, three people were in the water attempting to wade to the safety of the island and others had become trapped on rocks.

"It is a stark warning to others how careful you must be."

The 90-minute rescue between noon and 1.30pm involved Coastguards, lifeboat staff and the ambulance service.




David Holmes
Chief News Reporter
David Norbury
Mike Fuller
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