Mother issues tombstoning warning after her son swept out to sea

Mother issues tombstoning warning after her son, 14, is swept out to sea and airlifted to hospital by coastguard

  • Mark McNeil, 14, had to be rescue after being swept into sea in Croyde, Devon
  • RNLI rescue teams were dispatched as the boy clung onto rocks near the scene
  • Stunning video footage shows the moment Mark was rescued by the RNLI

A mother has issued a stern warning after her teenage boy was injured in a tombstoning incident.

Mark McNeil, 14, was rescued from rocks after coastguards received a ‘desperate’ 999 emergency call from one of the boy’s friends, who said the boy was in ‘serious trouble’.

The teenager was swept into the sea by a wave at Baggy Point, Croyde, Devon at around 7.45pm yesterday.

Stunning video footage shows the moment Mark McNeil, 14, was airlifted to safety

The RNLI rescue team also filmed the rescue operation 

A rescue operation was launched involving Croyde Coastguard Rescue Team, Appledore RNLI Lifeboats and the HM Coastguard search and rescue helicopter.

Mark’s friend, Joe, managed to swim out to him and help him grab hold of rocks, although he was still in danger of waves crashing into him. 

Helicopters struggled to reach the teenager as there were rocks overhanging him but they were eventually able to airlift him to safety.

Video footage captured by Andy Stokes shows the moment he was rescued.

Mark’s mother Leona, of Braunton, Devon, described the experience as ‘absoultely terrifying’.  

She said: ‘His friend called and said ‘Mark’s in trouble in the water and we’ve had to call the coastguard’.

‘I’ll never forget the sheer terror that came over me.

‘I flew up to Baggy Point where I arrived to find two lifeboats in the water and a helicopter hovering overhead.

‘I could see his group of friends who all looked very shocked – I was convinced he was still in the water.’ 

Leona said Mark was saved by his brave friend Joe who jumped in the water after him.

She said: ‘Mark was getting battered and smashed by the waves and had taken on a fair bit of water.

Video footage captured by Andy Stokes shows the moment he was rescued

Mark’s mother Leona, of Braunton, Devon, described the experience as ‘absolutely terrifying’

‘It had overpowered him and he’s a pretty strong swimmer.

‘The helicopter then airlifted them off the rocks and up to safety.’ 

She said: ‘He’ll live, he’s a very lucky boy.

‘Apparently when he was being airlifted, the man asked him if he would be in trouble with his mum – and he said ‘yes, she’s Scottish’.

‘He’s stayed off school today to recover as he’s still a bit shakey.’

Ms McNeil has appealed to other children and parents about the risks of tombstoning.

She said: ‘This is not safe. Boys think it’s fun but Mark and his friends have been really shaken up by this.

‘I would urge all parents to warn your children of the dangers.

‘If they had seen the terror on my face when I arrived at the scene, they would never consider doing it again. It was the worst night of my life. 

He was flown to North Devon Hospital and treated for minor lacerations after the rescue just after 8pm on Thursday.  

Steve Mann, duty controller for HM Coastguard, said: ‘This young lad had a very lucky escape – the alternative ending doesn’t bear thinking about.

‘Tombstoning into the sea from rocks, piers or other structures can be extremely dangerous and always carries great risk. In this case the young lad went under the water quite a few times and was in danger of being swept out to sea.’

Mark McNeil got into trouble in the sea at around 7.45pm yesterday evening

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