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Exmouth RNLI saves two girls from drowning

What Happened
Person overboard/swept away/fell in the water
What Caused
Adverse environmental conditions
Casualty type/Qty
Causal Factors
Lack of awareness of hazards/obstacles
Injury Details
Near miss

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Description of Incident
Exmouth RNLI inshore lifeboat crew on Saturday evening saved the lives of two girls who were swept into the sea at Dawlish

The girls, aged 15 and 16, had on Saturday evening been walking along the sea wall at Dawlish to visit a friend when a large wave swept them into the rough sea.

Inshore lifeboat helmsman Giles White said the girls’ lives were saved by the Exmouth volunteer crew with seconds to spare.

The father of two said: “They were in a very serious condition the situation was very dire for them. It was lucky we were out on a previous call out and got tasked out. The extra few minutes coming from the boathouse would have made the difference between life and death.

One of the girls was semi-conscious and was floating 50 per cent under the water.

“It was one of the most challenging rescues I have been on and one that will stand out in my mind for the rest of my life.

“We couldn’t land them at Dawlish, the sea was far too rough. We had to take them back to Exmouth, which was an epic journey. “They were still screaming in the boat even though they were safe.”

Inshore lifeboat crew Giles White, Andy Smith and Andy Williams battled in failing light to pull the girls from the water.

Their rescue efforts were made more perilous after a line from a rescue buoy thrown to the girls from an onlooker became caught up in the lifeboat.

Mr White added: “Conditions were very poor, the light was fading fast and the large easterly swell which had been building over the last few days was breaking against the sea wall and bouncing back, slapping the incoming waves.

“I spotted a girl in the water inside the breaking seas ten metres from the Dawlish sea wall - at the same time could hear loud screams from the sea wall.

A large crowd had gathered and were waving frantically and screaming at us.

“As I rounded up into sea there were the two girls, one holding the other who was barely at the surface, we pulled up alongside and the two other crew members reached for the semi-conscious girl.

“I reached for the other more conscious girl.”

The two girls were taken to hospital by ambulance.
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