Warning over coastal dangers after teen dies

Cullercoats Bay'Picture by Jane Coltman
Cullercoats Bay'Picture by Jane Coltman

Visitors are being reminded of dangersat the coast following the death of a teenage girl who was swept off a pier by a large wave.

Caitlin Ruddy, 15, from Newcastle, had been with three friends on the northern Cullercoats pier at 7.45pm on Saturday.

Her friends managed to walk off the pier safely but Caitlin was hit by a wave and knocked into the sea.

A large-scale rescue involving Cullercoats RNLI inshore lifeboat, Tynemouth Volunteer Life Brigade and Northumbria Police saw her recovered from the water 30 minutes later.

Caitlin was rushed to the emergency care hospital in Cramlington but later died.

Now visitors to the coast are being reminded of the dangers, especially in the dark and with sea temperatures so cold.

TVLB Captain Peter Lilley said: “We were at the scene 12 hours later and it looked tranquil.

“It was dangerous on the night and three to four foot high waves were breaking over the pier. Anyone who was going to get washed off would struggle to survive.

“The sea has so much energy at the point.”

Peter added: “We’d ask people to treat the coastline with respect. If you see anyone in trouble then dial 999 and ask for the Coastguard. They can get the lifeboats and ourselves on scene quickly. If you speak to one of the other emergency services then precious minutes could be lost.

“Awareness is the key, highlighting the dangers that are there and getting people to appreciate them.

“There might be a solution, new signage or barriers. We hadn’t had an incident at Cullercoats for over a year.”

Chief Inspector Paul Knox said: “We need to remind people of the danger of the sea, particularly in the dark and cold at this time of year, when tides are high and people can be taken unawares by the strength of the waves and the inherent dangers of the sea.

“People should always be careful around water and if the sea is looking rough with waves pounding onto the pier we would advise people to be particularly cautious and keep their distance.”

Paul Hanson, deputy chief executive at North Tyneside Council said: “On behalf of everyone at North Tyneside Council, I would like to offer our deepest condolences to Caitlin’s parents, her family and her friends and say how saddened we are.

“We would also like to say thank you for the efforts of all of the emergency services and the public involved on Saturday night.

“While our coastline is a beautiful natural asset, this tragic accident highlights the dangers it can pose and we support the brave messages from Caitlin’s family asking everyone to understand the risks and take care.

“Alongside the other emergency services, we’ll be looking at what else we can do to further emphasise the risks associated with our coast.”

Enquiries are still ongoing into the incident and anyone with information about this incident should contact police on 101, quoting log number 974 of 16/01/16.