A woman was airlifted to hospital after being rescued from rough seas at Tynemouth today (Wednesday).
RNLI volunteers and an RAF helicopter crew battled the rough conditions to save the woman.
The alarm was raised just after 8.30am when a woman was seen walking at the base of Tynemouth Pier with large waves breaking over the structure.
Tynemouth all-weather and inshore RNLI lifeboats, Cullercoats RNLI lifeboat, an RAF rescue helicopter from RAF Boulmer were all called to the scene while members of Tynemouth Volunteer Life Brigade assisted on shore.
A crewman from each of the lifeboats was sent to the pier, where they spotted the woman walking in the water and shouting for help, under the seaward side of the pier.
Volunteer crewman Alun Ross climbed down a ladder and entered the water, and managed to take hold of the woman and walk along with her back towards the ladder but a large wave broke over them, snatching her from his grip and washing her into the sea, out of his reach.
The RAF rescue helicopter had arrived and lowered their winchman who managed to locate the woman soon after and winch her onto the helicopter, which took her to Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary. Her condition is unknown.
Adrian Don, spokesman for Tynemouth RNLI lifeboat station, said: “The woman was found to be in a distressed state but was shouting to the lifeboat crew members for help.
“Volunteer crewman Alun Ross climbed down a ladder from the pier and bravely entered the very rough sea and managed to get hold of her and start to get her to safety, but the power of the breaking waves dragged her away from him.
“He risked his own life in dangerous conditions and his actions were in the finest traditions of the RNLI.
“The RAF helicopter winchman also risked his life, becoming submerged several times before managing to recover the casualty from the sea.
“This was a superb effort by everyone concerned in the rescue and we hope the casualty makes a full recovery.”
A spokesperson for Northumbria Police said: “Police were called to Spanish Battery at 8.37am following reports of concern for a woman in the water.
“Emergency rescue teams attended and the woman was located and the RNLI helicopter took her from the water to the RVI.”