SWIMMERS are being urged to head to safer waters off South Tyneside’s coast after a man’s tragic bank holiday death.
A 36-year-old South Shields man died after getting into difficulties off Marsden Grotto, on Monday.
The man, who has not yet been named, was hauled unconscious from the sea by the crew of the Tynemouth RNLI lifeboat, and then airlifted to an RAF Sea King rescue helicopter, before being taken to Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary, where he was yesterday pronounced dead.
Eye-witnesses said the man had gone out for a swim before his death.
Today, coastal veterans said people need to be aware that the area is not suitable for bathing.
Nick Dolan, The National Trust’s property manager for Souter Lighthouse and The Leas, which look after the beach, said: “It is the case that Marsden Bay is no longer a beach for bathing, and there is appropriate signage to warn of the dangers of entering the water, and that it is unmanned.
“It is a sad incident and we feel for the families.
“The incident highlights that with the high cliffs and the North Sea’s tides and currents, people should be careful on this rugged, natural coast.”
Penney Wilkinson, secretary of South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade, also wants people to understand the dangers of Marsden Bay – despite its beauty.
She said: “The waters at Marsden can be treacherous at times, there’s a very strong undercurrent and, of course, all of the rocks.
“Even on what may look like a calm and warm day, the water will be much colder than the body temperature, and people will easily get into difficulties.”
Mrs Wilkinson, who also runs lifeguard training classes, says that if people insist on swimming in the water then they should head further up the coast to Sandhaven Beach, which, starting from last weekend, will now be manned by volunteer lifeguards and those from the RNLI.
She said: “I know that the beach was downgraded a few years ago because it wasn’t that popular with swimmers, they prefer to head to the bigger beaches.
“I would say that if people insist on entering the water then Sandhaven is a safer option, as it is manned and there are also warning flags, which indicate how safe the water is.
“Every weekend now throughout the summer the RNLI will have lifeguards on patrol, and we’ll also be helping out when we’re needed.”