Daily Mail

I’m go­ing to drown!

Pad­dle­board boy’s 999 call as he’s bat­tered by waves

- By James Tozer

A TER­RI­FIED teenager stranded in rough seas after fall­ing from his pad­dle­board phoned res­cuers on his mo­bile to tell them: ‘I’m go­ing to drown!’

Lifeboat crews re­leased a dra­matic video of the boy’s res­cue as a warn­ing to other pad­dle­board­ers of the dan­gers posed by the sea.

A fear-filled record­ing of his 999 call was also re­leased after he was swept 400 yards out by the tide off Pwll­heli, North Wales.

The 17-year- old – iden­ti­fied only as Al­fie – was able to call the emer­gency ser­vices after he had kept his phone in a wa­ter­proof pouch. Through­out the call Al­fie cries out in ter­ror, say­ing: ‘I’m go­ing to drown!’ But the call han­dler calmly tells him: ‘You’re not go­ing to drown, Al­fie.’

He adds: ‘Just stay on your back, stay awake and keep your mouth shut.’ Lifeboat crews and a coast­guard he­li­copter tracked Al­fie down 30 min­utes after he made the call and he was flown


to hospi­tal. He was said to be con­fused and show­ing signs of hy­pother­mia but was re­leased by doc­tors the same day. Res­cuers said Al­fie was saved by the de­ci­sion to wear a wet­suit and life­jacket – and take his phone.

The risks of pad­dle­board­ing were shown when a 42-year-old hol­i­day­maker from Es­sex died after fall­ing and be­com­ing en­tan­gled in moor­ings off Rock in Corn­wall on Mon­day.

Stand-up pad­dle­board­ing has be­come in­creas­ingly fash­ion­able, in­spired by celebritie­s such as model Abbey Clancy and Friends ac­tress Jen­nifer Anis­ton who have been pic­tured rid­ing the waves while work­ing on their fit­ness. How­ever, fears have been ex­pressed that some new­com­ers to the sport un­der­es­ti­mate its haz­ards.

In Al­fie’s case, Royal Na­tional Lifeboat In­sti­tu­tion helms­man Fritz Wil­liams said: ‘This call-out shows just how cru­cial a life­jacket is and hav­ing a means of calling for help. A life­jacket can buy you valu­able time while you wait for help to ar­rive.’

Al­fie and his fa­ther vis­ited the Aber­soch lifeboat sta­tion the fol­low­ing day to thank his res­cuers.

RNLI chiefs said crews have res­cued 52 pad­dle­board­ers al­ready in 2020 against 41 in 2019. It rec­om­mends pad­dling from a beach pa­trolled by life­guards and check­ing the fore­cast and tides be­fore set­ting off.

An Aber­soch spokesman said: ‘Get proper train­ing, stay within your ca­pa­bil­i­ties and tell some­one you’re go­ing and your ex­pected time to re­turn.’

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