Families enjoying a day on the beach have spoken of their shock after an emergency rescue operation was launched to find a teenager missing in the sea.
Dozens of Police officers, RNLI volunteers and Coastguard crew were on the scene for more than two hours as they battled to find a 17-year-old who got into difficulty when he and three friends took a dinghy out near to the Old Pier at Roker.
Emergency services were called at around 3.20pm after two 17-year-old males were seen in the water near to the Sunderland Yacht Club.
It’s believed they had got out of the dinghy to swim while their two female friends, also 17, stayed in the inflatable.
One of the males was rescued soon after entering the water while his friend was missing in the water for around an hour-and-a-half.
Tom Parkin from nearby Sue’s Cafe, who is also chairman of the Sunderland Seafront Traders Association, said: “People could see the group of four, they were playing on an inflatable around 40-50 yards in front of the Yacht Club.
“The two boys were seen going in the water, but only one came out. People weren’t sure if they were just messing about at first. Then lots of people began to panic when they realised it was more serious and were ringing the Police.
“It’s been really busy at the beach today as the weather’s so lovely But people don’t realise how cold the water can be, there’s only a one degree difference between the temperature in the winter and in the summer. Once you’re in the water you can get very cold very quickly.
“They pulled the boy out at the slipway and drove him round to where the helicopter had landed on the beach, a team of people were working on him at the scene and then they took him away in the helicopter. People are really shocked and hoping he’s okay.”
Nichola Williams, 33, from Red House, had been at the beach with her three children.
She said: “We didn’t realise what had happened at first, you’re two busy watching your own kids at the beach to notice any others. Everyone was so shocked when they realised what was going and everyone started making the children come in from the water.
“I don’t think people realise how dangerous the water can.”
Officers were later seen removing a green and black inflatable dinghy from the water.