A LIFEBOAT crew were forced to rescue two cars that were swamped by the sea within 90 minutes of each other during the highest tide of the year.
At least one of the cars which were wrecked by the submerging North Sea yesterday had been used to try to pull a boat out of the water, the RNLI said.
A crew from Redcar RNLI responded to the first call-out at 3.20pm after coastguards received a number of 999 calls saying two people were on the roof of a vehicle on the town’s beach as the waters came in.
When they arrived at the scene, the crew found that the trapped people had made their own way to safety on the beach, one of them sustaining a small hand injury.
But to avoid the owner attempting to recover the vehicle himself in the face of the rapidly rising tide, and to avoid pollution from the vehicle’s fuel tank, the lifeboat launching tractor was used to pull it clear of the water.
As the crew were standing down, more calls were made to the coastguard reporting that the driver of a second vehicle had got into difficulties while trying to recover a speed boat on to its trailer near the Marine Club at South Gare.
The lifeboat re-launched, but on arrival its crew discovered that the driver was safe ashore and the vehicle was being rapidly submerged by the tide.
Dave Cocks, who has worked at the station for 36 years, told The Yorkshire Post, said it was the first time in his experience that the crew had been called out twice in one day to this type of rescue.
“It’s certainly very unusual,” he said. “The tide in the morning has been the highest tide of the year, it was coming in very quickly. The first vehicle was swamped in around five to six feet of water in about 45 minutes.”
Seven volunteers were involved in the rescue.
Mr Cocks, who is lifeboat operations manager at Redcar RNLI, added: “Launching and recovering boats, whether it’s from the beach or a slipway, needs the right vehicle, a good understanding of what the tide is doing, and plenty of practice.
“Unfortunately it’s proved a very expensive afternoon for two car owners. Fortunately, apart from a minor hand injury, no one came to any real harm, but the consequences could easily been much more serious.”