Man in seafront rescue drama ‘got plaster cast stuck in rocks’

A holidaymaker who got his leg trapped in rocks as waves washed over his head had been trying to rescue one of his children when he got into difficulty, one of his rescuers said.

The man, from Southend, Essex, was at Sheringham seafront in Norfolk when he slipped and a plaster cast on his foot got wedged between rocks and steps leading up to the promenade, firefighter Russell Cox said.

The man, who has not been named, was freed after almost four hours on Sunday by crews who manoeuvred his leg out of the rocks.

He was taken by land ambulance to the Norwich and Norfolk University Hospital for treatment, the ambulance service said.

Mr Cox, a crew manager for Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service based in Sheringham, said the man was “freezing” by the time he was rescued and his leg was “quite gashed”, but he had spoken to rescuers throughout, including about his football team Tottenham Hotspur.

The fire service was called shortly before 6pm and officers joined coastguards at the scene.

“It was down some steps towards the beach and he’d slipped off,” Mr Cox said.

Sheringham sea rescue
The man’s leg was badly gashed, but he remained conscious throughout, firefighters said (Lissy Jackson/PA)

“He’d gone to rescue one of his children who’d actually slipped on the rocks and he had a plaster cast on his foot.

“He’d actually had a previous injury and he’d slipped and it was actually the cast that got wedged between the rocks and the concrete steps and it was the cast that was holding him in place.

“He couldn’t move it out.

“High tide was just in, it was then on the turn to go back but it was still at its highest then.

“It was probably halfway up his chest at its highest but it was the waves that came in, that was the problem.

“The waves just kept coming in in sets of three and when they hit you they were literally over the top of us.

“I had two of my guys trying to shield him so they were taking a bit of the force to just try to protect his head.”

He said they put water rescue equipment on the man and eventually managed to get a firefighter down into a gap in the rocks to help free the man’s leg.

“It was a bit of brute force and ignorance,” said Mr Cox.

“We didn’t need to break (the rocks).

“When (the firefighter) was in there it was a case of working hard to try and free his leg and move his leg back and that in the end is what we managed to do.”

He said conditions were “treacherous; it was so slippery”, adding that the rocks were too big to be moved by hand and “if you moved one, another one could drop on him”.

He said he believed the man is aged in his 20s and was on holiday with his two children and a friend.

“We had quite a chat about football just to try and keep him to it, and to be fair to him he was brilliant,” said Mr Cox.

“He stayed positive throughout and he helped us as much as he could as he was freezing and he was in pain.

“He helped us a great deal and a lot of credit has to go to him.

“I think we had every single emergency service down there and everybody really worked well together.”

Sam Stockdale, senior maritime operations officer from HM Coastguard, said on Sunday: “It’s such good news that this man has been freed. We often talk about how training matters between the various frontline responders and today has shown just why it does.

“Everyone worked together on scene to look after the man and also to free him as soon as was practically possible.”

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