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Tuesday, 30 September 2014

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Boy in dramatic rescue from Cumbrian cliff-face

A 13-year-old boy was rescued from a crumbling cliff after he became stranded during rising tides at Whitehaven.

Cliff photo
Emergency teams work to free the boy from Whitey Rock at Whitehaven

The teenager had climbed 30ft up an outcrop known locally as “Whitey Rock” on the north beach at Whitehaven when he became stuck.

Coastguards, firefighters, ambulance and the RNLI lifeboat from St Bees were called to the scene last night.

Paul Pater, the Whitehaven coastguard station officer who co-ordinated the rescue, said the boy was “clinging to the rock like a gecko”.

“He had been hanging on for about 30 minutes,” he said.

“He was very frightened but once the rescue technician reached him he calmed down.

“He could have lost his grip and fallen.”

The Whitehaven Coast Rescue Team described the rescue as “extremely difficult and hazardous” due to the shale make-up of the rock, making the cliff face unstable and slippery.

They said that there was “a constant danger of either the youth slipping off the ledge, or the ledge itself crumbling away.”

A rescuer was lowered down to the boy and placed a rescue harness on him and lifted him to the top before lowering him down the more stable seaward side of the rock.

The boy had managed to alert a family member of his predicament.

Police were called at 5.36pm who informed Liverpool Maritime Rescue Co-ordination Centre of the incident.

Whitehaven Coast Rescue Team were deployed and a cliff rescue team dispatched.

A water rescue team was also on standby at the base of the rock as the tide was coming in quickly.

Coastguard watch officer Brian George said: “The young man, on holiday in the area from London, was extremely lucky.

“The quick thinking [of staff] in the police control room, the local knowledge in the coastguard co-ordination centre enabling staff to pinpoint the casualty and the skill, flexibility and experience of the rescue teams combined to ensure a successful outcome and safe return of the casualty to his family.

“With the summer holiday season fast approaching this incident serves as a reminder that people of all ages should use extreme caution around cliffs and rocks on the coast.

“Always check the tide times and never go climbing on rocks or cliffs alone or without taking local advice and using the proper equipment.”
St Bees Lifeboat was launched to standby as the tide approached.

Two fire engines from Workington and two from Whitehaven also attended.

Station manager Adrian Holme and the fire and rescue team were on standby at the foot of the cliff.

He said: “We had a ladder on standby and rescue techniques ready should he have fallen into the water.

“It was a quick and successful recovery and all the emergency services worked together.”

The boy was checked over by a ambulance staff but suffered no injuries.

Network Rail also placed restrictions on a nearby railway track to allow the coastguard to make the rescue.

 

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