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Mum Dies in Bude Beach Tragedy

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2:30pm 4th September 2012
(Updated 2:30pm 4th September 2012)

A mum has been swept to her death in Bude, trying to save her sons from the sea.

The woman in her fifties went in when the lads got caught in a rip current, but she could not break free.

One was rescued by a man, hailed a hero. He dialled 999 before dashing into the waves at Northcott Mouth and pulling the boy to safety. His brother was plucked from the water by lifeboat crew.

RNLI teams from Summerleaze, Bude lifeboat, cliff rescuers and a helicopter were scrambled on Monday afternoon.


A police spokesperson said: "The woman – believed to be in her early 50s – appears to have got in to trouble while in the water at Northcott Mouth Beach at around 2pm.

"She and one of her children were removed from the water with the help of the coastguard, lifeguards and other beach-goers.
"She was airlifted to North Devon District Hospital by a Royal Naval helicopter where she was later pronounced dead.
Next-of-kin are being informed at this time."
It is thought the family were on a day trip from Somerset.

Pirate FM has learnt that lifeguards at the beach was withdrawn less than twenty-four hours earlier. It only has cover during the peak summer season.

A spokesperson for the RNLI said: "This is a tragic situation and the thoughts of the whole RNLI team are with the woman’s family and friends at this sad time.

"Northcott beach is a peak season beach and therefore has RNLI lifeguard cover for the two-month high season summer period from July 7 to September 2, 2012."northcott beach

The charity said that lifeguards at nearby Summerleaze had picked up the calls for help on a VHF radio: "Two lifeguards on duty heard the call and responded immediately to the scene where they retrieved a female casualty from the water. The lifeguards carried out Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation until the arrival of a search and rescue helicopter. The casualty was then airlifted and transferred to North Devon District Hospital.

"Meanwhile, the three volunteer crew on the Bude inshore lifeboat who had also responded were tasked to rescue a child from the water and a member of the public who had gone into the sea to try and help the youngster. Both were taken onboard the lifeboat and delivered into the beach where they were met by the local coastguard unit."

Some locals have told Pirate FM that they warn tourists not to swim at Northcott Mouth. Glenda Hicks used to live at the beach and now works at a nearby holiday park. She said: "We advise them which beaches to go on actually. I always send them into beaches in Bude because they seem a bit calmer and there's a lot more people around the beaches."

Marenka Donnell grew up nearby. She said: "The lifeguards know what they are doing at the end of the day. Some of the holidaymakers don't even know the tide goes in and out. I think the lifeguards are crucial and should, somehow, be kept on longer than they are. If they had been working yesterday it would have been a different outcome."

northcott mouth beach near BudeSteve Instance, an inspector with the RNLI in Cornwall, said: "The majority of beaches which were lifeguarded in Cornwall are still being lifeguarded throughout the rest of September. But some of the more quiet rural beaches are only patrolled in July and August and we finish on the first weekend in September just as the schools go back.

"It would be great if we could lifeguard every beach all year round, but it's just not feasible. Anywhere can turn to tragedy very quickly. We have to provide lifeguard resources where they're needed at the time of year they're needed. We can't be everywhere at every time."

2:30pm 4th September 2012

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