Volunteer RNLI crew launched relief all-weather lifeboat, Stormrider, to assist the emergency services in the search for possible casualties following an incident where a vehicle fell from steep cliffs onto the beach at Sillery Sands, near Lynmouth.
The call was received at 9.05am on Saturday 9 March and the volunteer crew quickly mobilised and launched the relief Shannon class all-weather lifeboat Stormrider. Sea conditions were rough, with a near gale force 7-8 westerly wind and strong tides with four-metre swells. In these challenging conditions the journey out to Sillery Sands took 35 minutes and the RNLI lifeboat arrived on scene at 9.40am.
Once on scene, volunteer crew could see the badly damaged car at the foot of the steep cliff at the water line. The Ilfracombe Coastguard Rescue Team, Lynmouth Coastguard Rescue Team and the police were in attendance at the scene. At this point RNLI crew were informed that the driver had managed to escape from the car, but it was unclear whether there was anyone else in the vehicle at the time it went over the cliff. Lynmouth Fire Service and Barnstaple Fire Specialist Rescue team also attended the scene and were able to search the wreckage of the car and confirm that no-one was inside.
The RNLI lifeboat crew were tasked by the coastguard and police with searching the cliffside and shoreline to check whether there were any other casualties. Using their knowledge of the conditions and tides, the crew searched the shoreline and cliff area, and identified a number of objects for investigation by the coastguard team. No casualties were found. The coastguard sent a cliff technician down the cliff and all of the objects were retrieved. The RNLI crew searched the area for an hour and half before before being stood down at 11.10am by the emergency services. The lifeboat then returned to the station by 11.40am.
Carl Perrin, RNLI Volunteer Coxswain for Ilfracombe RNLI lifeboat, who led the search says: “Our volunteer crew performed well to assist the police and coastguard in the search for casualties. The team have trained extensively to carry out this kind of task and today they used their training and local knowledge to carry out this search with strong winds and a heavy seas making conditions challenging.
“There were a number of people gathered around the rocks at the shoreline to observe the rescue. In such rough and unpredictable sea conditions, we would remind people to take extra care and to respect the water.”
PHOTO at top of story: Stormrider by Neil Perrin.