ANGLERS have today been urged to take responsibility for their own safety on Roker Pier.
The plea from Sunderland City Council comes after a 66-year-old West Rainton man suffered a broken leg, when a 16-foot wave came over and swept him into railings.
He was airlifted to hospital in a major rescue operation, which saw other fishermen led to safety through the tunnel under the pier.
According to witnesses he had been packing away his angling equipment when he was injured.
A member of the council’s resort staff noticed a tidal wash going over the pier at 1.30pm on Saturday and decided to close the pier and remove all fishermen and members of public.
He was on his way to tell anglers they were about to be evacuated when he found the pensioner lying on his back at the base of Roker Lighthouse.
The council is now asking people to be careful when using Roker Pier in future.
Councillor John Kelly, cabinet member holder for public health, said: “Sea conditions can change very quickly and the council does everything it can reasonably do to protect the public.
“But we’d also ask anglers and members of the public to play their part by showing a degree of personal responsibility.
“This includes keeping an eye on weather conditions and getting off the pier as soon as possible if they do see them begin to change.”
A Washington man, who was walking near the pier with his wife, told the Echo he was stunned to see anglers still casting their rods despite huge waves crashing against the lighthouse.
“I couldn’t believe they were still fishing when the waves were crashing over the top of them,” said the 63-year-old, who did not want to be named.
“I said to my wife ‘I hope they are going to come off there’, but they didn’t.”
Also on Saturday, 33-year-old angler Paul Turner, from Horden, died after being swept out to sea while fishing on the East Durham village’s coast.
Mr Turner, a married dad-of-six, was rescued by the RNLI but later died at Middlesbrough’s James Cook Hospital.