Photos show the aftermath of major rescue mission as emergency services battle tide to pull man from car after it goes over South Shields cliff

Emergency services faced a race against the tide to rescue a man after his car went over a South Shields cliff and came to rest on a beach.

Thursday, 12th September 2019, 8:19 am

They were alerted to the incident at Frenchman’s Bay at 11.20pm on Monday, September 9, after the vehicle came to rest on the rocks below.

HM Coastguard said South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade (SSVLB), Sunderland Coastguard Rescue Team, Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service, Northumbria Police and the North East Ambulance Service (NEAS) were sent to the scene.

They were joined by Tynemouth RNLI, which sent its all weather and inshore lifeboats to the incident.

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While the all weather boat provided back-up and helped illuminate the scene from the sea, the man was helped from the car and put onto a stretcher before he was put onto the inshore lifeboat.

A further transfer took place out at sea, where he was moved onto the all weather boat.

It then travelled up the coast and along the River Tyne to South Shields Ferry Landing, where a number of ambulance service vehicles, a police van and a fire appliance had been waiting help the RNLI team once it arrived on the river bank.

The man was then moved to an ambulance and taken to hospital.

Work is expected to begin to recover the car from the base of the cliffs, with the National Trust securing the barriers in the wake of the incident at Frenchman's Bay.

Police say he has sustained minor injuries in the incident.

Following the rescue, it is understood the vehicle caught light, with the burned out wreckage still visible from the cliff top today.

The National Trust, which manages The Leas, has been on the scene today assessing the damage to the barrier.

A spokesman for NEAS said: “The call came in 11.24pm to a report of a car had gone over the cliffs a Frenchman’s Bay.

The remains of the burned out car can be seen at the bottom of Frenchman's Bay cliff.

“Four Hazardous Area Response Teams (Hart) were sent to the scene.

“This was a protracted and complicated rescue.

“Two paramedics went down on a line system to the car, where the man was trapped and the tide was coming in.

“After assessing his injuries, he was extricated from the car, with waves coming in around them.

National Trust team assess the Frenchman's Bay cliff barrier damage after the car went over the cliffs.

“He was put into the inshore lifeboat and then transferred to the all weather lifeboat before he was taken to South Shields Ferry Landing.

“The patient was then taken to South Tyneside District Hospital A&E.”

Simon Swallow, head of resilience at NEAS, added: “Although this is the kind of incident that our Hart teams are trained to deal with, clearly the two paramedics showed real professionalism and courage in rescuing the patient as the tide was coming in.

“Thanks to help from all our emergency service colleagues, we were able to get the patient from the scene and on to hospital.”

Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service sent two appliances from South Shields, one from Hebburn and another from Marley Park in Sunderland to the incident.

The rope rescue teams, which are based at South Shields and Hebburn, were also involved in helping to reach the vehicle and support the rescue of the man.

A Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service fire appliance and its team works alongside other emergency services during the call out.

Three officers were lowered down the cliff face with cutting gear, but were able to get the car door open due to the movement of the water around the partially submerged vehicle.

The paramedics and firefighters using the rope kit were assisted by the SSVLB’s technicians.

Station Manager Chris Lane, of Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service, said: “This was a complex situation for all the services attending.

“The vehicle’s location and the rising tide made this a challenging and time critical rescue.

“There is no doubt that the professionalism and collaborative work between ourselves, NEAS, Royal National Lifeboat Institution, South Shields Voluntary Life Brigade and Northumbria Police delivered a successful outcome.

“We very much hope that the casualty will make a full recovery.”

The joint training we regularly undertake with our partners ensures that when this type of incident occurs our skills can be used to best effect.”

The incident was brought to a close by 1.30am.

It is expected the effort to recover the vehicle from the beach will begin today.

A Northumbria Police spokesperson said: “Shortly after 11pm yesterday, police received a report that a car had gone over the cliffs at Frenchman’s Bay, South Shields.

“Emergency services attended and a male driver was taken to hospital with minor injuries.

“There is not believed to have been any third party involvement and inquiries are ongoing.”

The Coastguard has said anyone reporting an emergency on the coast should call 999 and ask for the service.

A photo showing police, ambulances and firefighters at the South Shields Ferry Landing, where a man was transferred to an ambulance and taken to hospital
A photo taken by Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service showing the rescue efforts under way on the cliff top.
National Trust team on the scene of the cliffs over Frenchman's Bay following the incident.
The rescue mission took place at Frenchman's Bay.
The emergency services on the scene at the South Shields Ferry Landing.