A man and his dog were saved by Hornsea Inshore Rescue after crew spotted them in difficulties on the cliffs on the way back from a callout.
The town’s independent lifeboat was called out at 1.20pm last Sunday to investigate a report of a person entering the sea in worrying circumstances just to the north of Skipsea.
The Spirit of Hornsea was immediately put into action by launchmaster Paul Shannon, and a search began, though nothing was found.
However, while searching just north of Atwick the crew spotted a man and his dog, trapped by the tide and trying to keep clear of the heavy seas pounding the cliff face just below him. The waves were breaking up the cliff face and constantly dragging him down the cliff and into the breakers.
Leading coxswain Karl Shannon immediately turned the lifeboat towards the cliffs and instructed the crew, Shona Richards and Carl Handley, to go to the man’s aid, which entailed making their way through the surf to the cliff face – a difficult and dangerous task but one for which all the crew had been trained. They eventually reached the pair – John Muldowney and dog Riley – put lifejackets on them and prepared them for transfer to the lifeboat.
Again, this proved most difficult due to the high waves crashing up the cliff face. At one point the lifeboat was thrown against the cliffs and sustained some damage but with the skill of the coxswain and crew they got the casualties on board.
Mr Muldowney had been trapped for about 45 minutes and in the water for about 15 minutes, when they were spotted by the Hornsea Inshore Rescue crew.
He was suffering from exposure and the crew gave him first aid as they sped back to their base at Hornsea slipway. Here he was swiftly transferred to the warmth of the boathouse where he was passed into the care of the coastguards. With specialised attention he began to recover and after a couple of hours the man’s son arrived to take him and Riley home.
Mr Muldowney, from Doncaster, is a regular visitor to Hornsea where he walks Riley on the beach. In expressing his gratitude to Hornsea Inshore Rescue he said how he was convinced he was going to die and that he owed his life to this “magnificent” organisation.
Leading coxswain Karl Shannon said: “I have been with Hornsea Inshore Rescue for 25 years and this was the most difficult rescue I have been involved in and definitely a life saved. Two lives – because it was very doubtful the dog would have survived.”
Sue Hickson-Marsay, chairman of the organisation and station manager, said: “This was a very difficult rescue and the crew performed brilliantly in very dangerous and demanding circumstances.
“Nobody had spotted the casualty and it would have certainly been a very different outcome if the crew hadn’t been there. The tide comes in very quickly to the north and south of Hornsea and people need to check the tide times and remember that the sea can reach the cliff base well before it is high tide.”
The lifeboat was called out again that same evening, to investigate another report of a man seen entering the water in concerning circumstances.
The lifeboat was swiftly launched by launch master Adam Collins with Karl Shannon at the helm for the second time, and coxswain Joe Brown and Rob Carthew as crew.
After conducting an intensive shoreline search the crew were stood down and the lifeboat returned to its base where it was washed down, refuelled, and prepared for the next call out.
Hornsea Inshore Rescue is a totally independent local rescue organisation supported solely by donations and grants.