A SEARCH is continuing tonight for a man who was swept out to sea as he tried to rescue a dog.
The man and a woman are believed to have gone into the water at Hendon Beach after a dog at about 4pm today.
The woman was pulled from the waves and taken to Sunderland Royal Hospital but rescuers were too late to reach the man.
Coast Guard officers and the Sunderland RNLI lifeboat have been sweeping the waters off the beach for hours this evening.
Coast Guard area commander Greg Albrighton was in charge of co-ordinating the search efforts.
He said: “By the time anyone got here, there was time to rescue the woman but the man had disappeared.
“We have heard he went into the water after the dog got into trouble – the two people went in after the dog.
“It would have been very, very rough, at the time, with the waves battering on the rocks.”
Rescue efforts had been hampered by the tidal conditions at the beach, he said.
“It was pretty much high water when we got here – the conditions made it impossible to go into the water.”
Rescuers were expecting to carry on working after darkness fell.
“We will be here until at least low water, so we can check all the outflows and check the rock armoury again,” said Mr Albrighton.