I’m going to drown!
Paddleboard boy’s 999 call as he’s battered by waves
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
SEA RESCUE 1
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.’