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September 2, 2005
Hovercraft and Mud Rescue Teams rescue three trapped on Stert Island

Burnham-On-Sea's Coastguard Mud Rescue Team

Three people who were stuck in mud at Stert Island, near Burnham-On-Sea, were helped to safety by the town's rescue hovercraft on Friday September 2nd.

The stranded speedboat (circled) on mud flats at StertThe Spirit of Lelaina was called out by Coastguards at 10:54am and launched shortly afterwards when three people - a 46 year-old, 26 year-old and 20 year-old from Bristol - ran aground in a 16ft speedboat on a mud bank (circled in the photo on the right).

They alerted emergency services by calling 999 and, after assessing the situation, the hovercraft flew to the scene with a crew of two - Alan Miller and Peter Charles - plus two members of the Coastguard's Mud Rescue Team - Neil Mynett and Nigel Smith.

Burnham Coastguard Officer Steve Bird said: "One of the men had already tried scrambling across the mud to the shore on Stert Island and had sunk waist-deep into the mud. He'd fortunately managed to get back onto the boat but there was a concern that the three might try again."

Neil Mynett, who was onboard the hovercraft as part of the Mud Rescue Team, added: "The hovercraft landed us within 10 metres of the speedboat, allowing us to safely get onto the stranded craft.

A Coastguard video showing the rescue"We then managed to pull each of the casualties over the mud in basket stretchers to the waiting hovercraft. All three casualties were then flown back to Burnham's jetty where they were checked over and released without injury."

Alan Miller, Chairman of BARB, the charity that runs the hovercraft, said: "There was no other means of rescue available on this occasion because the casualties were stuck on a boat in deep 4ft mud with no water around them. No lifeboat could have reached them - so the Spirit Of Lelaina has once again proved its value."

Later in the afternoon, the stricken speedboat was returned to shore by Burnham-On-Sea's RNLI at around 4.30pm.

The stricken speedboat was returned to Burnham Beach by the RNLI crewOnce the craft was afloat on the incoming tide, the lifeboat crew escorted the owner and his craft to the safety of Burnham beach (pictured right).

The Burnham hovercraft is named after five year-old Lelaina Hall, who tragically lost her life in the mud at Berrow in 2002.

The Western Daily Press launched a successful fundraising campaign when its readers donated £115,000 to buy the fully-equipped hovercraft. During its first 18 months of operation, it has helped and rescued more than 75 people along the Somerset coastline.


Official Burnham Hovercraft Web site home page

BBC Online coverage of this incident

Western Daily press coverage of this incident




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