Six lives have been claimed by the seas off the Devon and Cornwall coast during seven days of tragedy.
A treacherous combination of hot sunshine and deadly swells has led to more than a dozen additional rescue operations off Devon and Cornwall, with swimmers airlifted, capsized kayakers rescued, and injured tombstoners taken to hospital.
Images of parked coastguards, ambulance and police vehicles with concerned crews looking out across the coast from Seaton to Torbay, Plymouth to Penzance, have become a familiar sight in the past week.
The incidents have brought into sharp focus the dangers presented by our seas – the beautiful oceans which attract and delight visitors from all over the country.
As police, coastguard and the RNLI have said all week – enjoy the water and the sunshine but remember to take extra care.
Here we look back at the incidents over the past week in Devon and Cornwall which have reminded us about the deadly power of the sea.
(Image: Torbay Coastguard)
WEDNESDAY JUNE 26
A major rescue operation was launched after a person was seen struggling in the sea at Maenporth Beach, near Falmouth.
The individual was airlifted to hospital on Wednesday (June 26) evening. They were pronounced dead the following day.
THURSDAY JUNE 27
For the first time this summer, temperatures rose above 25C and attracted thousands of people to the coast.
At Long Quarry near the picturesque Ansteys Cove there were reports of groups of men on rocks and diving in the water.
The coastguard was called at 1.15pm to reports two men had been swept into the sea.
(Image: Greg Martin)
A witness to the fatalities was walking with her husband near Redgate Beach said she saw a large group of young men on rocks near Long Quarry.
She said: “We were worried about them and said it was an accident waiting to happen. The next thing I knew I could see two heads in the sea. I thought it was seals.
“I was so upset when I heard what happened. We wished we had shouted to them to be careful earlier, but they were too far away.”
(Image: Torbay Coastguard)
Despite the best efforts of the RNLI inshore lifeboat, coastguards and paramedics the two men died.
Inquests have since been opened into the deaths of Matthew Berry, 25, and Daniel Harris, 26, both of Stoke Gabriel Road, Galmpton.
An investigation by Devon and Cornwall Police is still underway and anyone with information about the matter is urged to contact police on 101 quoting log 552 of 27/6/2019.
The rest of the day was a constant stream of 999 call-outs.
3.22pm two kayakers were rescued off Preston Sands. Teignmouth Lifeboat recovered both casualties from the water.
4pm Just over half an hour later a third emergency was raised in Torbay. This time a tombstoner had been injured near the Imperial Hotel.
The casualty had been jumping off rocks in the area when he got into difficulties and was bashed against rocks in the heavy swell.
Luckily for him two other lads dived in and pulled him out of the water.
(Image: Torbay Coastguard)
He was winched into the coastguard helicopter and taken to Derriford hospital for treatment.
At 5.41pm a helicopter and two lifeboats were needed to help save three men who set off from Blackpool Sands in a single kayak yesterday – despite 16-foot waves and high winds.
The men, aged 23, 25 and 27 and from Dartmouth, had quickly began to struggle in the strong onshore northeastly wind. They took in a lot of water but were eventually given the all clear by paramedics.
Early on Friday morning coastguards were called out once again, this time to a drunken swimmer in the water off Corbyn Beach. He was safely escorted off the beach and given some safety advice.
A series of tragedies and rescues was also unfolding in Cornwall.
12.50pm emergency services were called to Prussia Cove, between Helston and Penzance, following reports that a person was in difficulty in the water. He was airlifted to Praa Sands and pronounced dead a short time later.
Police later confirmed the 43-year-old was from Northern Irleand.
2.41pm a teenage girl had to be airlifted to hospital in Bristol after getting into trouble in the water off Sidmouth.
The air ambulance attended the scene while police closed off roads around Sidmouth beach.
Following a major response by emergency services the patient was airlifted to Bristol Children’s Hospital.
It was confirmed the next day that the girl suffered a suspected heart attack.
The incident came just hours after Sidmouth Lifeboat warned of rip tides causing dangerous swimming conditions off the town’s main beach.
A spokesperson said on Facebook: “Strong easterly conditions and currents are causing rips and dangerous swimming conditions on Sidmouth sea front today.
“Please DO NOT swim near or between the rock islands.
Meanwhile, back in Torquay, one visitor spoke of her horror at seeing young children playing in huge waves.
The horrified person told Devon Live: “The waves at Oddicombe beach were huge – I had to leave because I couldn’t stand watching very small children age 2 – 4 years running down the beach to the waves and trying to run back.”
6.30pm A huge rescue operation, involving two helicopters, was launched around the mouth of the River Axe and Seaton.
Two children were washed out to sea. The young pair were pulled out from the water around 180 metres off shore and rushed to A&E.
A spokesman for Beer coastguard said: “Both were cold and one had swallowed sea water.
“It was decided to lower the paramedic from the helicopter onto the lifeboat to check them over.
Over the weekend there were two further rescues involving the Coastguard helicopter.
On Saturday evening, a man was airlifted to hospital after falling from cliffs in Newquay.
It was reported that a man had fallen about ten metres onto a rocky ledge at Bedruthan Steps, before tumbling a further five metres into a gully filled with water.
He was rescued from the sea by his friends, who climbed down to help him and were able to recover him back up to the ledge. Footage shows fisherman being airlifted after falling down Cornwall cliff
Several emergency calls were made after an unconscious man was seen hanging over the side of a boat with his head in the water. He was airlifted to hospital via the Coastguard rescue helicopter.
The following day, police said he was in hospital in a stable condition.
A 57-year-old man diver went missing in Plymouth Sound.
The dive party he was with dialled 999 at around 7.30pm on Monday, reporting that a diver had got into difficulty in the water at Plymouth Hoe.
(Image: Torbay Coastguard)
Coastguard, RNLI and military specialists carried out extensive air and sea searches into the night and throughout this morning.
On Tuesday Devon and Cornwall Police confirmed the tragic news that a body had been located in the search.
Plymouth Sound Divers, a branch of the British Sub-Aqua Club issued a statement and said their colleague will be “sadly missed by all who knew him”.
The body of a man was pulled from the water at Penzance. Police believe he was a 53-year-old man from the Midlands. Officers are attempting to located his next of kin.
3.16pm Two people fell out of a kayak at Broadsands Beach in Paignton. The RNLI was called but the men were rescued by a passing vessel and made their way safely to shore.
4.14pm Coastguard were sent straight over to Hopes Nose in Torquay to reports a man had suffered a cardiac arrest. He was taken to hospital by the air ambulance.
A man was pulled from the sea following an incident at a beach in Cornwall
Emergency services were scrambled to South Fistral, near Newquay, following reports that a person was “trapped under rocks”.
The coastguard helicopter, a lifeboat crew, police officers, paramedics and firefighters attended the incident. There were at least eight emergency vehicles at the scene.
The rescue helicopter was seen flying over the water at about 10am.