A YOUNGSTER was washed into the sea after being hit by a freak wave while playing on Cullercoats Pier.
The 12-year-old boy had been with his twin brother and two friends when he was hit by a 12ft wave and swept into the North Sea at Brown’s Bay.
A major rescue operation was launched, with a member of the Tynemouth Volunteer Life Brigade on the scene a minute after the initial call to the Coastguard just before 3.50pm yesterday (Wednesday).
The child, about 50-metres offshore, was in difficult and about to go under the water when the Cullercoats RNLI Lifeboat arrived on the scene, with the TVLB member preparing to enter the water using Water Rescue Equipment before the lifeboat was launched.
Members of the public were also on the scene helping with the rescue from the shoreline.
The lifeboat took the casualty back to the boathouse where they gave him initial treatment before he was taken by an RAF rescue helicopter to Wansbeck General Hospital suffering from hypothermia.
The 12-year-old’s brother and friends were examined by paramedics, as they had been hit by a number of waves, before being released into the care of their parents.
TVLB captain Peter Lilley, the first on scene, said: “The casualty was extremely fortunate to have escaped alive from his perilous position which was down to the quick response of Brigade members and the lifeboat crew.
“The waves were about 12ft to 15ft tall.
“There is a ramp down from the promenade on to the beach, and we suspect the children were running on that trying to avoid the waves.
“He was only in the water ten minutes at the most and he was conscious the whole time, which was good. We heard that soon after arriving at hospital, he was moved from A&E to the children’s ward, which is a good sign.”
He added: “It’s not normally that dangerous down there (Cullercoats Bay).
“We just want to ask people to be careful and even if the waves look tempting, always be careful. If you get it wrong, and get hit by one of the strong waves, then it could pull you into the sea.”