A missing Burnham-On-Sea man was air-lifted from Stert Island following a huge search operation for him involving multiple rescue crews on Wednesday (October 30th).
It comes after Police issued an appeal for help in finding Mark Winterburn, 34, who went missing on Burnham seafront on Tuesday after parking his van and then walking along the Esplanade towards the town’s sailing club.
Police, Coastguards, BARB Search & Rescue, and RNLI crews were all involved in an extensive search for him overnight – and the operation continued this afternoon when it was eventually discovered that he had swum across the estuary to Stert Island opposite Burnham.
Alana Savage, the partner of Mark’s brother, told Burnham-On-Sea.com: “The family would like to thank everyone who took part in helping us find Mark.”
“So many people on social media wanted to help which was amazing! A special thank you goes to all the rescue teams and police for finding him.”
A Burnham Coastguard spokesman said: “We were tasked in the early hours this morning by Avon and Somerset Police to assist them in a search for a person who had been reported missing. Information was limited so, as all search plans do, it started from the last known position on Burnham seafront.”
“Two teams of Coastguards including Weston-Super-Mare Coastguard Rescue Team were deployed to walk the shoreline North and South. One team headed towards the Lower Lighthouse while the second headed towards Burnham Yacht Club looking for clues such as footprints.”
“Once the team heading South reached the Yacht Club they then searched the boatyard and along the river banks.”
“The Police units were also searching inland areas while BARB Search & Rescue’s hovercraft, with two Coastguard Mud Rescue Technicians onboard, carried out a search along the mudflats as the tide was low.”
“RNLI Lifeboats at Burnham-on-Sea were tasked by the Coastguards to carry out a search around Stert Island and along the river banks.”
“With no persons found and Police following up on CCTV footage, crews were stood down at around 5.30am until the tide was once again low enough to continue searching.”
Crews were called back out again at 12:30pm to make a search plan ready to put into action ready for a wider area.
The spokesman added: “We had Weston Coastguards and BARB retasked to help boost numbers so we could maximise the coverage.”
“A mud tech from Burnham Coastguard and one from Weston Coastguard boarded hovercrafts flown by BARB, one headed towards Berrow and the other across to Stert Island for a closer look around the high tide mark.”
“As the hovercraft made its way around the back of the Island the Police helicopter was conducting an air search above the island when a person was spotted. The Coastguard Mud rescue Technician approached the person and immediately managed to confirm it was the person we had been searching for.”
“After a brief assessment it was established he was suffering from the onset of hypothermia so he was made as warm as possible and the Coastguard rescue helicopter 187 was tasked to the mud team’s location for a quick extraction.”
“After Rescue 187 had landed on Stert he was reassessed by the Coastguard Helicopter paramedic he was then flown from Stert Island and landed on Burnham Beach where he was handed over to a waiting ambulance crew.”
With all this completed, crews were stood down at 5pm following a lengthy operation.
A spokesman added: “This was a busy, but ultimately rewarding incident, that includes finding a person who had been in the extremely cold water before being out in the bitterly cold wind for nearly 24 hours. The close multi-agency working resulted in an amazing find and one that we can all put in the win column. We send him our best wishes for a quick recovery.”
Police and family members have thanked the public and rescue crews for their support and their help in the successful search.