YOUNGSTERS are being warned about the dangers of tombstoning and playing on rocks after a teenager was lucky to escape serious injury while diving into the sea.
A 16-year-old was rushed to North Tyneside General Hospital with head and spinal injuries last Wednesday after diving off Cullercoats Pier.
He was able to walk out of the sea but complained of pain throughout his spine.
The boy was then placed on a spinal board and given oxygen by RNLI lifeguards while members of Tynemouth Volunteer Life Brigade helped transfer him to a waiting ambulance.
Now lifeguards at Whitley Bay, Cullercoats and Tynemouth are warning sunbathers to be careful near rocks.
RNLI lifeguard supervisor Chris Mason said that people are still indulging in potentially life-threatening pastimes along the coastline despite warnings and vigilance from all the rescue organisations.
Speaking about the latest incident, he said: “The casualty told the lifeguards he had dived headfirst off the pier at low tide.
“Diving off the pier at any time is incredibly dangerous but it is especially reckless at low tide when there can be as little of two feet of water surrounding the pier.”
RNLI lifeguard Sven Larson added: “Initially the casualty refused treatment when he learned paramedics would take him to hospital for further checks but my colleague Sonny Simpson persuaded him that it would be the best precaution to take in case he had suffered a spinal injury.”
Lifeguards on duty at Cullercoats beach have spent much of the week advising people against diving into the water from the pier, but to no avail.
Elsewhere last Wednesday, lifeguard Josh Browell escorted two groups of teenagers off the rocks between Longsands beach and King Edward’s Bay after getting cut off by the tide.
Prior to that, lifeguards at Longsands beach had radioed colleagues in the Bay after becoming concerned about a group of three teenagers jumping off the rocks at the point between the two beaches.
Chris Mason and colleague Sam Nicholson went to the highest vantage point above the rocks to monitor the situation while Josh paddled to the rocks on a rescue board.
Once there he found one of the teenagers had injured their leg jumping and also came across another group of teenagers who had been cut off by the tide.
He walked them all off the rocks and back to the safety of the beach.
Chris said: “While we know it’s not realistic to keep people from walking on the rocks altogether we would advise them to take extra care if using those routes and to check the tide times with the lifeguards before going ahead.
“You may think you’ve got time to get round the point but the tide comes in incredibly quickly.
“Equally, it is a very isolated spot to fall and hurt yourself so please think very carefully before going ahead.”