Burnham-On-Sea, Somerset

May 31, 2005
Family of three rescued after failed bid to cross River Axe

Coastguards have rescued a family of three who foolishly tried wading across the notorious River Axe estuary from Brean Down to Weston-super-Mare after missing their last bus home.

A warning sign at the spot next to Brean Down where the family tried to cross the River Axe on May 28.A man (32), woman (28), and their son (7) were taken to Weston General Hospital suffering from the early signs of hypothermia after getting into difficulties in the thick mud on Saturday night, May 28.

"After realising they had missed the last bus to Weston, from where they intended to catch a train home to Bristol, they tried taking a 'short-cut' to Weston by crossing the River Axe at low tide," said Burnham-On-Sea Coastguard Officer Steve Bird.

"This is a notoriously dangerous spot and has been the scene of many incidents over the years. Consequently, they got stuck but fortunately managed to wriggle their way partly back up the bank on the Brean side. There, they called 999 on a mobile phone."

Members of the Burnham-On-Sea Coastguard team led the search for the trio, initially scouring the area from the top of Brean Down, before conducting a search of the riverbank and finding the family in the mud near a set of sluice gates.

"They were all very cold and in need of warming up. The man was shivering, bleary and could hardly speak. He was showing the early stages of hypothermia," said Mr Bird.

Initial response paramedics at the scene checked them over, before taking them to Weston General for observation.

Mr Bird added: "This is not an uncommon place for people to try and cross the river, but it's incredibly dangerous.

"The shore on the other side looks so close and the mud looks firm, but anyone who walks on it sinks rapidly and gets stuck. The tide also comes in very fast, so incidents here can quickly develop into very serious situations."

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