A Fleetwood schoolboy was dramatically rescued from terrifying life-threatening danger after being caught in quicksand just beyond the town’s main beach.
The alarmed 11-year-old was stuck up to his knees in gooey, sandy mud and was completely unable to move as the incoming tide rose above his waist, before Fleetwood’s Coastguard and Lifeboat crews came to his aid.
The Fleetwood High School pupil, who did not wish to be named, was alone at the time and the alarm was raised after his shouts were heard by others on the beach.
Frighteningly, the incident occurred on the Black Scar Perch sandbank, just a short distance beyond a seemingly safe beach spot near the old Fleetwood Pier site, which attracts locals and visitors alike each summer.
Now the rescue, which happened on Saturday, has prompted Fleetwood Lifeboat to issue a warning to others to be wary of the potentially lethal sinking sand and the deceptive tides which can catch people out.
Captain Dave Eccles, operations manager for Fleetwood Lifeboat, said: “Great teamwork prevented a tragedy because if the tide had managed to rise any further, this young boy could have lost his life. The sandbanks are dangerous to all, residents and visitors to the town, and people need to be aware of the very real risks. In this case, the incoming tide made the situation even more dangerous.”
Capt Eccles praised two young beach lifeguards, employed at Fleetwood Leisure Centre, who also played a key part in the rescue.
Brother and sister James and Rebecca Radcliffe, of Anchorsholme Lane East, Cleveleys, were alerted to the boy’s plight by a couple on the beach and rushed to help.
But the pair, who have both gained Royal Life Saving Society qualifications, knew they would have no chance of pulling him out of the treacherous mud and might get stuck themselves.
Rebecca, 24, stayed near the anxious youngster, just beyond the mud, and re-assured him while James, 26, contacted the Coastguards and waited on the beach to take them to the youngster.
James said: “Just a few minutes earlier some people had asked us why we were even bothering to stay on the beach when the tide was out.
“But it turned out we were in the right place at the right time.”
And Rebecca said: “I stayed with the young lad. He was fairly calm but when the water started to rise he was scared.I tried to reassure him until help arrived.”
The incident began just before 3pm and the Inshore Lifeboat (ILB) arrived at the scene at nearly 3.45pm, ready to provide any assistance.
Coastguard volunteers from both Knott End and Fleetwood reached the boy across the sands shortly afterwards and used specialist mud rescue equipment to extract the youngster.
The boy was then carried back across the beach to be checked out in a waiting ambulance.
Capt Eccles added: “We in the Lifeboat and Coastguard know about these danger areas like Black Scar Perch but many people don’t.
“My message would be to avoid any sticky mud and stay away from the sandbanks, including the new island sandbank which has been in the news recently.
“When the tides are higher, there is even greater danger.”
And Capt Eccles issued the following advice if anyone was caught in quicksand.
He said: “Keep still, don’t try and walk, because you will be sucked further down.
“Shout and make as much noise as possible, or call the emergency services if you are fortunate to have a phone with you.
“And if you are sinking further, try and sit down. This may sound strange, but it means your weight is distributed more widely and you’re less likely to sink further.”