As parents, we know we’d do anything to protect our children, even if it means risking our own lives. Most of us will never have to go that far – but for one dad, saving his own child nearly ended in the worst possible way.
The man, in his 20s, became trapped by rocks on the Norfolk coast at Sheringham. He was leaving the beach with his family when one of his children fell on the rocks; as he went to rescue the toddler, he also slipped and became wedged between two boulders.
Firefighters had to cut through the rocks during the dramatic rescue, which saw the man up to his neck in water for several hours. The operation was coordinated by HM Coastguard and Sherinham RNLI, assisted by Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service, Norfolk police and the East of England Ambulance Service.
Tony Garbutt, senior coastal operations officer for HM Coastguard for the area, said the man was lucky the tide was on the ebb; had it been incoming, the situation could have been far more serious.
“We were having to hold his head out of the water,” explained Mr Garbutt. “It was slightly chaotic at the beginning as we were trying to save a man’s life.
“Anybody who is trapped like that, their first thought is, ‘Am I going to get out of this?’, and on top of that, he’s got one-metre waves crashing into his back. But he was fantastic throughout; he did everything we asked of him, didn’t complain and was upbeat and happy to be free.”
After the rescue, the man was treated at the scene before being stretchered to a waiting ambulance. He sustained a severe gash near his ankle and a number of small cuts, as well as severe crush bruises to his leg. The child who initially slipped on the rocks was uninjured.
Retired Sheringham Coastguard station manager, Stuart Facey, was walking his dog locally when the incident happened.
“The whole thing escalated,” he said. “I saw someone obviously stuck in the rocks, it was high tide and water was coming over him – it was a very scary situation. I’ve seen people climb into cavities in the rocks and the problem is that even if you’re able to move a rock to free someone who is stuck, another can fall into its place; it can be a life or death situation.”
Eye-witness Lissy Jackson added: “I saw a number [of rescue workers] crowded round the rocks, attempting to free the man. I then saw two large trucks pull in with equipment to aid in breaking rocks.”