A DAD and son have hailed the emergency services as “lifesavers” after being rescued from the rising tide on a secluded beach.
Darrell Forster and his 16-year-old son, Devon, said they feared for their lives after being trapped by a rapidly incoming tide.
They had gone to the beach between Hawthorn and Easington Colliery and planned to fish with Darrell’s brother-in-law Craig Mitchell, 45.
But they got caught out by the tide and had to rush to safety into a nearby cove as 5ft waves quickly caught up with them.
Devon clambered to safety in to an area known as Boater’s Cove, but Darrell struggled as he has trouble walking due to sciatica and vertebrae problems.
At one point both father and son, who had been separated from each other, did not know if the other had made it to safety.
Following a search and rescue operation mounted by officers from Easington Neighbourhood Policing Team (NPT), Durham Police’s helicopter, HM Coastguard and Durham County Council’s street wardens, Darrell and Devon were found and winched to safety.
Craig was able to make his own way up the rocks.
Darrell, who is married to Angela, 40, and lives in Quantock Place, Peterlee, said: “I thought I was going to die.
“But when I heard the helicopter it was such a feeling of relief.”
He added that Craig, who works for Peterlee-based Chevron Taxis, is an experienced fisherman but said even he admitted he had been caught out by the tide.
Darrell, 48, said: “We were down on the beach but the tide was getting in.
“Craig was saying ‘this is the height of the tide, we need to get a move on’, but it came in pretty quick. Even Craig admitted it scared him.”
Darrell, also dad to 21-year-old Scott, said Devon got to the cove and Craig made sure he was safe before returning for Darrell. But Darrell struggled to clamber over rocks due to his health problems and was verging on having a panic attack.
“I started to panic when I got to safety as I couldn’t see Devon, but he was further up the cove, trying to find a way out,” said Darrell.
Unknown to Darrell, Devon had called 999.
Pc Terry Hill, from Easington NPT, along with street wardens, launched a search, and liaised with the police helicopter.
The helicopter found Darrell and Devon, but Craig had made his own way to safety.
“I just want to thank everyone involved,” said Darrell.
“I would advise anyone not to go onto the beach in this weather, especially in that area where the rocks are and where you can get caught out.
“The tides came in far too fast.”
Sergeant Paul Footes, of Easington NPT, said: “We are really pleased with the ending and that everyone was safe – but it’s a lesson to all to be careful on the beach with the tides.” The rescue took place at 2.40pm on Tuesday.