Thursday, July 20, 2006


Seven-year-old Jessica Pinkney was just a fingertip away from drowning after a seaside outing turned into a nightmare. Jessica was hauled to safety by her brother Jason White, 21, after plunging to the bottom of a rock pool on a family trip to Saltburn. Moments earlier, she had been happily paddling in the stream and pools where Skelton beck reaches the sea. The spot was crowded with families enjoying Saltburn's Victorian Footballer's gala day on Sunday.
Horrified at seeing Jessica go under, 5ft 8ins tall Jason leapt in, expecting the water to come up to his waist. Instead, he was submerged and had to swim to save Jessica's life. He grabbed Jessica's finger just before she reached the bottom and hauled her to safety. Jason said: "Loads of kids were playing in the water - it wasn't even knee deep. My sister and her friend had been playing for about 20 minutes when I saw her go under and not come back up. I jumped in and went right under myself. I didn't expect it to be so deep. It looked completely safe." Jessica's shaken mum said: "I thought I was going to lose her - it's every parent's worst nightmare. If we hadn't been watching, she wouldn't be here today. Jason jumped in and he disappeared too - it seemed to take forever before they came up."
Julie said scores of children played in the water, oblivious to the potential danger. "I just feel there should be a warning sign," she said.
Redcar and Cleveland Council's community safety member, Cllr Joyce Benbow, said: "We are extremely concerned to hear about this incident. The council's resorts manager is investigating with a visit to the area and will consider what appropriate action needs to be taken. We are currently operating a beach patrol service, with bases at Saltburn and Redcar, which will offer seven-day-a-week coverage throughout the school holidays. Our safety advice is simple: anyone wanting to enter the water should do so in a lifeguard-patrolled area."
warning sign at Saltburn
21/07/06: After hearing Jessica's story and inspecting the scene, Redcar and Cleveland Council has decided to install two warning signs on the railings either side of the river, which runs into the sea at Saltburn.
The signs have been created in accordance with the Royal National Lifeboat Institute's beach signs guidelines. The signs - a yellow triangle - will say, Caution Deep Water, Please Bathe Between Flags. Councillor Joyce Benbow said, "We hope this will underline the possible dangers of using these waters, which can be five feet deep in some places and are outside the recommended bathing area, highlighted by the flag on either side of the beach patrol's base on the lower esplanade. We would also like to take this opportunity to warn all families that the sea and our rivers can be extremely dangerous places."

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