West Wittering rescue after three men ‘overwhelmed’ by incoming tide

Coastguard helicopter. Picture by John Periam
Coastguard helicopter. Picture by John Periam

A DRAMATIC rescue saw three men pulled out of the sea at West Wittering by a jet skier.

Seven ambulances, police and the coastguard helicopter all rushed to the beach yesterday evening (July 21), after reports the men were stuck on a sandbank and then overwhelmed by the incoming tide.

The men were airlifted from the scene, near West Strand, by the coastguard helicopter – two to Queen Alexandra Hospital in Portsmouth and one to St Richard’s Hospital in Chichester.

One of the men has been discharged but another was in a serious condition.

A police spokeswoman said emergency services were called to the beach at 5.53pm when the three men got into difficulty while out swimming.

She said: “Seven ambulances attended but the men, all believed to be in their 20s, were pulled to safety by a jet ski rider.

“Two men were taken to Queen Alexander Hospital in Portsmouth, one with minor injuries and one was in a serious condition.

“The third man was taken to St Richard’s Hospital and discharged later in the evening.”

The South East Coast Ambulance Service (SECamb) was called to the beach at 5.40pm.

A spokesman said initial reports showed one of the men was breathing, but unconscious, a second was provided oxygen and the third was also unconscious and a major concern.

He also praised the quick thinking of the jet ski rider who helped get the men to safety.

Community responders also attended the scene on behalf of SECamb.

Solent Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC) was first contacted at 5.40pm by West Wittering lifeguards who were in the process of rescuing the men from the water.

Matt West, watch manager at Solent MRCC, said: “If you are heading out for a swim, check the sea conditions and remember that even though the sea may look calm on the surface, there is the danger of strong currents underneath. Always check tide times as well so that you can avoid being cut off by the incoming tide.

“If you see someone in difficulty, you should call 999 immediately and ask for the coastguard.”

Did you witness the rescue? If so, please contact the Observer newsdesk on 01243 531313 or email news@chiobserver.co.uk