Rescued from the sea...


Retter im Dauereinsatz

It was Pentecost, beautiful summer weather and reasonably normal Atlantic surf, and we had walked from Euronat to Le Gurp. The beach was not yet supervised by the lifeguards. At around the half-way point, we met several young people playing ball on the beach. As we walked along, we heard them still happily running in and out of the water to cool down. We had only taken a few more steps when we heard a woman's voice behind us: "Come back, come back at once!" We turned around and saw a woman who was yelling repeatedly at the youngsters to come back immediately!" One boy obeyed the call and came ashore, but two others including a girl of about 16 years and her boyfriend didn’t want to come out. Then suddenly - they could no longer get back! It was an ebb tide with strong currents and the two were drawn further and further into the sea!

The mother screamed and the boy, who had come back ashore and who was about 15 years old, also shouted: "that’s my sister, I can't leave my sister alone, I must help her!" and wanted desperately to once again plunge into the water. We could barely restrain him only with much effort, and shouted «You must call the police or the Fire Department, who has a telephone?" The boy had one on the beach, his mother agreed immediately to call the police and then ran to the main beach of Euronat to find help. She asked us to watch the two swimmers who were being pulled more and more out to sea and towards Le Gurp.

Suddenly the boy arrived with his surfboard, which was really a good idea even though not particularly safe, but he ran into the water and tried to reach his sister and her boyfriend with the surfboard. With a lot of difficulty and effort he managed to reach them, then the three of them could cling to the surfboard l. We breathed again, now they could come back... But even that did not work for the three teenagers, as they couldn’t overcome the strong pull of the sea and were driven a fair way into the surf. One of us ran towards Le Gurp, to see if there was anyone who could help - but in vain as there were no lifeguards on the beach. The three teenagers were screaming with all their might and we couldn't do anything for them, but stood helplessly on the beach - a horrible feeling! At any time the strength of one of them could drain away and the water temperature was only 16 degrees, threatening hypothermia as well.

After some 45 minutes of seemingly endless anxiety and shouting and waving, a fishing boat from the direction of Montalivet eventually arrived at the scene, whose crew had heard the cries of the young people and brought a long-awaited rescue! Almost at the same time came a fire truck arrived from Soulac complete with attached boat, which fortunately no longer had to be launched. The three teenagers were taken to Montalivet, where the ambulance was waiting for them; fortunately none had severe hypothermia, and all three were able to return to Euronat after first aid.

We continue to hear the cries of the youngsters in our sleep; how would we have felt, if indeed the rescue had come too late for one or all three of them! We hope that many read this article and take heed of the unpredictability of the sea!

2018 Hannelore et Borwin Holsträter (Grayan), translation: Christopher Murray