Lifeboat crew risk lives as latest ‘tombstoning’ stunt goes wrong

TWO teenagers risked their own lives and that of a lifeboat crew after jumping into the sea in atrocious conditions at an East Coast resort.

The 16-year-old boys leapt into the sea near Bridlington Harbour’s North Pier – a regular spot for “tombstoning”.

The inshore lifeboat Windsor Spirit launched into heavy breaking seas, and as it made its way to the youths, the conditions resulted in one of the crew suffering a neck and arm injury.

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At first the youngsters couldn’t be seen because of a heavy breaking backwash.

Helmsman Adrian Trower said: “We could see nothing of the lads so I asked the crew to get the anchor ready in case it was needed and we ran close to the pier wall and suddenly, after the backwash hit the wall and want back out to sea, we spotted them.”

The crew shouted to the pair to swim towards them but both were too exhausted to try. However they were able to grab heaving lines – although one had to be towed because of the breaking seas.

Once aboard the boat headed back to the harbour, but was hit by several breaking seas, filling it with water and making it difficult to handle.

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The youths were taken to awaiting paramedics and coastguards.

Both were suffering from exhaustion and had swallowed a lot of water and one had numerous cuts to his legs.

For the crew the danger was still not over because as they made their way back to the station the outboard engine failed – probably after debris was sucked into the intake – and started to smoke.

The crew extinguished the fire but then needed a tow by the station’s offshore lifeboat Marine Engineer which was already on standby.

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Tombstoning, a craze for jumping or diving into the sea from high places, causes controversy every summer and last year a dispersal order was introduced to try and curb the practice.

Officers said they were being called at least once a day to try and stop people – sometimes children as young as 10 and sometimes adults – from leaping into the sea.

So far this year the inshore lifeboat has had 11 call-outs – the vast majority about people jumping into the sea or threatening to do so in Bridlington Harbour.

Lifeboat Operations Manager Steve Kinroy said: “Conditions were very bad especially round the north pier. The winds were strong north-easterly and the tide was just about high water. When the waves hit the sea wall and recede, meeting incoming waves they create what we term a confused sea, which is extremely rough and dangerous.

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“The outcome could have been very different and once again even alter all the publicity given to tombstoning they still do not listen.

“On this occasion the lads were saved, but they put our crew in danger.”

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