Warning issued after child gets swept out to sea while playing in large waves in Devon

  • Terrifying moment child is swept up into the sea by large wave

Safety warnings have been issued about the dangers of the sea after a child go swept into the water while playing in large waves in Devon.

A group of four children were playing on the pier slipway at Ilfracombe Harbour when tragedy almost struck at around 7pm on Thursday 3 August.

As large waves crashed against the pier, the girl got knocked off her feet and pushed through a gap in the railings.

Within moments she was swept away by the water as onlookers scrambled to help.

The girl was rescued by a quick-thinking member of the public who managed to throw a life ring to her and a person trying to rescue her.

Ilfracombe RNLI were called and provided casualty care to two children before taking them home.

Harbourmaster Georgina Carlo-Paat said: “This incident is a serious reminder of the dangers of tombstoning and other high-risk activities in the harbour.

"Not only were the youths lucky not to be more seriously injured, they put their lives in danger as well as those of quick-thinking bystanders who acted when they got into trouble.

“The sea conditions were very volatile and all of the youths had been knocked off their feet on the slipway prior to the incident, but still continued to run into surging waves.

"Thankfully the RNLI were on exercise in the outer harbour at the time and were able to respond very quickly and tended to their injuries before escorting them all home.”

The girl can be seen slipping through the railings after being knocked off her feet. Credit: North Devon Council

North Devon District Council is now warning people against tombstoning - an activity which sees people jump or dive into the sea from a height - at the harbour.

A spokesperson for the council said: "A byelaw exists which prohibits people from jumping, diving into and swimming the harbour without permission from the harbour master.

"This protects people from risks such as altering water depths; submerged objects and rocks, and the strong currents that can rapidly sweep people away.

"The penalty for jumping off the harbour can be up to a £1,000 fine upon prosecution."