THANKS to newly wed couple Emma and Darryl Smith from Farnham, a 13-year-old girl has recovered safe and well after a traumatic rip tide experience at West Bay beach in Dorset.
The couple, who were holidaying with family members, were relaxing on an unmanned section of West Beach when Emma came across what she believed to be a vulnerable young girl struggling to make it back to shore.
“I noticed the girl around three to four minutes before I headed out, my husband thought she was OK, just swimming about but I thought she was out a bit too far,” said Emma.
“I later locked eyes with her and she put her hand up indicating she needed help, whether that was to me or anybody, I saw it. She was around 20 to 30 feet out – I feel like I was the only person who saw her.”
Emma’s natural instincts soon kicked in as she raced towards the treacherous currents to the girl, it was clear to Emma she was drowning.
But she hadn’t taken into account just how dangerous the waters actually were, and soon realised she wasn’t able to fight this battle alone, finding herself in as much danger as the young girl.
She continued: “I honestly thought I could do it but when I got out there the waves were so high. I told her to relax and not to panic, she went under water a considerable number of times.
“She was panicking so much and grabbing onto me which was pulling me under with her. I literally felt like I was going no-where. It is the same type of feeling of running up an escalator in reverse.
“We were around 40 feet out now. I was so tired and shouted to my husband but he was already there right behind me. He helped me to pull her out, I couldn’t have done it without him.”
This area of the beach is well-known to locals for rip tides, also known as rip currents.
“I don’t think anyone even heard us shouting from the water, our voices were lost in the wind,” Emma added Emma.
It wasn’t long before emergency services, including the RNLI, were on the scene, and the young girl was taken to hospital with her family and treated for secondary drowning.
“It was quite traumatic, I just keep dwelling on what could have happened, it could have been much worse.
“I would like to thank my husband, I don’t know what I would have done without him. I wouldn’t have made it back. I’m the idiot for running out there fully clothed, he is the true hero – he saved the day.”
The pair want to raise awareness about the RNLI and the dangers of swimming in the sea – they believe that all unmanned beaches should have red flags installed.
Emma has already begun classes at Farnham Leisure Centre to further improve her swimming and increase her strength, which she has hailed as “fantastic and a great life-saving skill to have”.