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June 2004
Hovercraft and Mud Rescue Teams Save Trapped Teens at Brean

The Mud Rescue Team from Burnham Coastguard helps the trapped teensBurnham's hovercraft flew into action in its first major call-out to avert tragedy near Brean Down.

Just eight days after going into service, the vessel saved two teenagers from the treacherous mud flats on Sunday June 6th, 2004 - as shown in these exclusive photos.

Shaken, cold and wet, the stranded youths were delighted to see the Spirit of Lelaina hovercraft speeding towards them.

Burnham hovercraft at the scene of the incidentThe teenagers, aged 15 and 19, had been paddling out from Brean Sands in their dinghy when they decided to walk back to shore.

But half a mile from safety they sank waist-deep in mud.

Beginning to panic, they were forced to clamber back into their dinghy to take refuge.

A member of the public saw the event unfold and alerted the coastguard.

The Mud Rescue Team venture out into the mud to help the teensLuckily, the Burnham-On-Sea hovercraft was on exercise at the time and within minutes was on its way to save the youngsters.

As a precaution, a helicopter was also scrambled from Barnstaple, but it proved unnecessary.

The hovercraft stopped within 10 feet of the teenagers, enabling the mud rescue team from Burnham-On-Sea coastguard to pull them to safety.

The teens step onboard the mud rescue raftAs the shaken teenagers left to return home, incredibly the hovercraft went out again to bring back five people who were almost one-and-a-half miles out from shore near Berrow, seemingly unaware of the rapid tides which can so quickly turn a day at the beach into a tragedy.

The dramatic rescues were just a few miles from Berrow Beach, where five-year-old Lelaina Hall tragically drowned in the mud in 2002.

Relieved Mud Rescue Team members at the end of a successful rescueIt was because of her loss that readers of the Western Daily Press newspaper generously donated £115,000 to help fund the Burnham-On-Sea hovercraft which is able to fly over water, sand and mud.

BARB, the Burnham Area Rescue Boat group, which runs the hovercraft, said the Spirit of Leliana had been an 'invaluable' asset, adding: "Everybody has worked really hard to get it going - it has proved invaluable in its first week of operation."

Images courtesy of hovercraft team member Pete Emery.


Official BARB Web site home page




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