Sea-rescue drama after kayak capsizes in dangerous waters

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A LIFEGUARD has been hailed a hero after a saving a man from dangerous water off Whitburn.

Sunderland RNLI lifeguard Joe Mitchell swam out to rocks 15 metres offshore to rescue the man whose kayak had capsized.

The brave action was part of a rescue operation involving Humber and Sunderland Coastguard, Sunderland RNLI, National Air Police Service and the Ambulance Service.

But helmsman of Sunderland RNLI, Paul Nicholson, said it was ultimately Joe’s actions which saved the man, 24, of Whitburn.

“The successful rescue of this man was down to all the cogs in the wheel playing their part, but in particular the actions of lifeguard Joe Mitchell.

“He swam to the man and then towed him back through breaking seas and rocky ground to allow us to pull them both clear of the water.”

Northumbria Police notified Humber Coastguard that the man was in stranded just after 2pm on Monday after they received a 999 call reporting he could be seen clinging to rock, surrounded by “large kelp beds” off Jackie’s Beach, Whitburn.

Coastguard informed Sunderland RNLI which launched two lifeboats, a rescue water craft – specially adapted jet ski – a helicopter from National Police Air Service (NPAS) and a Coastguard rescue team from Sunderland.

The man was located by Coastguards and the NPAS helicopter, and on arrival it was decided that the safest was to rescue the man was for senior lifeguard Joe to swim out to him.

He then fitted a rescue tube to the man, and swam back to the D Class lifeboat with him.

Joe, a senior lifeguard at Sunderland, said: “During the season we train regularly to maintain our levels of fitness and skill to allow us to conduct rescues like this.

“Not only do we train as a unit, we also train regular with the RNLI lifeboat crews and other services to ensure that we can all pull together to complete successful multi agency rescues like today.”

Once the man and the beach lifeguard were safely on board the D class lifeboat it was manoeuvred clear of the rocks into open water where the man was transferred to the larger Atlantic 85 inshore lifeboat.

After being assessed by RNLI casualty carers, he was taken back to Sunderland Marina where he was treated by paramedics before being taken to Sunderland Royal Hospital suffering from early signs of hypothermia, and several cuts to his legs.