Calls are being made for better signage warning bathers on a Moray beach of the dangers posed yards from the shore.
The calls came when only the instincts and training of an RAF Search and Rescue coordinator at Kinloss Barracks saved the life of an 11-year-old girl at Lossiemouth beach on Friday.
Rich Stinson, an RAF flight lieutenant working as a rescue coordinator, was on the beach with his wife and children when the 11-year-old was spotted in trouble some 50metres from the shore.
Flt Lt Stinson said the girl was obviously in a lot of trouble, adding: “Although she was on a bodyboard she was slipping off.
“A woman in a dress who we later found was a friend of the little girl’s mother was the first in the water, but she was not a strong swimmer and could not reach her. Two young lads in wet suits also jumped in to help.
“When I got to the girl she was already well out of her depth and had swallowed a lot of water. I managed to get her back far enough to where I could stand up again – but even then the tide made it hard work.”
The girl had suffered after swallowing sea water and was taken to Dr Gray’s Hospital in Elgin where a relieved parent confirmed she was shocked but recovering.
While there is a sign warning of the dangers the position of that is not thought to be particularly helpful. Flt Lt Stinson said: “There are not any lifeguards on the beach so I think more than one sign is needed to warn people.”
Local community councillor Carolle Ralph pointed to several incidents on the beach over the years as bathers arrive unaware of the strong currents that pose a serious danger just off the beach.
The chairman of the Lossiemouth Community Council, Mike Mulholland, agreed, saying: “There is a sign but some people think it refers to the water under the bridge rather than the sea.
“Getting something else there is definitely something we will be looking at as a matter of urgency. We need something that people cannot miss.”