Lifebelts ‘not suitable’ for Sunderland beach where dad drowned

Rescue services at Hendon beach on Monday afternoon
Rescue services at Hendon beach on Monday afternoon
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LIFEBELTS were removed from the beach where a dad-of-two drowned trying to save his dog because of vandalism.

The body of Stockton man Alex Hardy was recovered from the sea off Hendon beach on Tuesday.

Sunderland City Council’s head of street scene Les Clark said lifebelts had been removed from the promenade in 1997 as a result of vandalism, but had since been replaced by safety measures better suited to the location.

An independent safety review from the Royal Life Saving Society confirmed previous guidance that safety equipment such as lifebelts are unsuitable for use at Hendon, given the nature of the beach,” he said.

“In particular, the rocks forming part of the coastal defences mean it is unlikely lifebelts could be thrown far enough to reach someone in difficulty. Being dragged onto the rocks by such a means of rescue would pose serious risk to both the person in the water and their rescuers.

“The report also advises anyone who witnesses someone in difficulties in the water should contact the emergency services rather than attempt a rescue themselves.

“The instruction to call 999 and ask for the Coastguard is part of the safety information on signs which were installed along the promenade as part of an £850,000 work programme of environmental improvements.

“The signs also warn people they should not enter the water because of dangers including strong currents, high tides and submerged rocks.

“We continue to monitor public safety along all stretches of water and beaches, and review new advice or guidance.”

Coastguard rescue officer Neil Mearns said: “The advice is never to go into the water to rescue an animal. Call the Coastguard on 999 for assistance at the earliest opportunity.”