Two girls are recovering in hospital after swimming for their lives when they were cut off by a rising tide while out paddling.
Her companion, a 14-year-old girl, managed to make it back to the shore in Morecambe Bay and was treated for superficial injuries and the affects of the cold.
But the older girl had to be rescued by boat and was taken to the Royal Lancaster Infirmary suffering from severe hypothermia. Her “serious” condition has improved overnight.
Lifeboat and coastguard staff, together with police, fire, ambulance personnel and a Helimed team, raced to the scene on the shoreline between Ocean Edge Caravan Park and Middleton Sands at the North Quay at Heysham when the alarm was raised by a passing ferry around teatime on Monday.
But it was the crew of a small boat from the Heysham Port Authority who plucked the older girl from the water and brought her in for waiting paramedics to treat.
“These two girls were quite lucky that someone spotted them from the ferry,” said Coastguard operations specialist Andy Carroll.
“They had been out walking and had become cut off by the incoming tide and stranded on a sandbank. Morecambe Bay is quite notorious for the speed at which that can happen.
“The girls attempted to swim to shore. I don’t know exactly how far out they were, but from reports from the scene I would guess about a mile.
“One of them managed to make it to safety and was OK apart from being a bit cold. But we got a call from Heysham Port saying they had recovered someone from the water into a small boat and were bringing her in.
“She was really quite cold and paramedics worked on trying to warm her up before they transferred her from the boat and took her by ambulance to hospital.
“The fact that she was alive was mostly due to the speedy response of the port manager who reacted to the alarm raised by the ferry and got a boat out to her quite quickly. Everyone acted very professionally.
“Obviously a lot of people go out walking onto the sands and into the water for a paddle. I’m not saying they shouldn’t do that because it gives a lot of people a lot of pleasure.
“But before doing it they should consider the tide does come in very quickly and you can get cut off by it.”
The two teenagers are believed to be from the Bolton area.
A spokesman for Lancashire Police also warned about the dangers lurking off the county’s coastline.
“The girls were fortunate enough that they were spotted getting into some difficulty and were able to get back to the shore,” said PS Mark Finch at Lancaster.
“But one of the girls remains very poorly at hospital as a result of the incident.
“This is a timely reminder to anyone enjoying the school holidays and the good weather to remember the dangers of the tide and of open water and to enjoy them safety and responsibly.”