Teenagers drifting out to sea on ‘inflatable doughnut’ rescued by helicopter

Two teenagers drifting out to sea on an “inflatable doughnut” have been airlifted to safety by a coastguard rescue helicopter.

A member of the lifeboat crew involved in the rescue said the teenagers were “incredibly lucky” and the incident highlights the dangers of using pool inflatables in the sea.

A walker called 999 after spotting the teenagers in the Moray Firth off the coast of Ardersier in the Highlands shortly after 5pm on Saturday.

Coastguard search and rescue helicopter 948 was sent to the scene and the teenagers were winched aboard before being flown to shore and handed over to the Scottish Ambulance Service.

The Kessock lifeboat was also called out and recovered the inflatable.

The crew believes the teenagers entered the water around the golf course and drifted out to sea, possibly pulled out by the receding tide.

Lifeboat volunteer crew member Douglas Munro said on Sunday: “Yesterday’s rescue highlights the dangers of using inflatables at the beach.”

“The casualties were incredibly lucky to have been spotted by a walker on the beach who witnessed the teenagers drifting out to sea.

“The walker reacted quickly dialling 999 and the coastguard requested.

“A swift response by CG R948, local CG teams and Kessock lifeboat prevented what could have been a very different outcome.”

The lifeboat crew warned that “inflatables are not appropriate flotation devices and should only be used at the beach with extreme caution, and ideally kept for the pool”.