Call for sandbanks warnings at West Wittering beach

West Wittering beach The family got into difficulties at West Wittering, where three men also got stranded on a sandbank

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A mother whose children were rescued off a West Sussex beach has called for better warnings about sandbanks.

Corinna Edwards-Colledge was with her five-year-old son and 12-year-old step-daughter at West Wittering when they were caught out by incoming tides.

She said the family did not realise sandbanks in the area meant that sea depths were so variable.

A West Wittering Beach spokesman said they had been outside the area patrolled by lifeguards.

The family's scare happened the day before three men were taken to hospital after they were trapped on a sandbank by the incoming tide at West Wittering.

'Felt safe'

"The strange thing about West Wittering that I didn't realise is that people further out to sea can actually be on shallower ground," said Ms Edwards-Colledge.

Start Quote

[The beach] is an alien environment for some people”

End Quote David Piper West Wittering estate manager

"So we felt that it was completely safe."

She said that she started to walk towards the shore with her son but the water quickly became too deep and she had to put him on her shoulders.

"About a minute later I was completely out of my depth. My son was clinging to my back and I felt that he could have slipped off my shoulders.

"It was terrifying."

She shouted for help and a swimmer came to their aid and took her son back to shore. A windsurfer towed Ms Edwards-Colledge and her stepdaughter to safety.

She said the family accessed the beach at East Head and did not see warning signs until afterwards.

'Dynamic environment'

"I suggest a safety flyer should be handed to each visitor as they pay to use the car park," she said.

West Wittering estate manager David Piper said flyers were given out but the beach was a "dynamic environment" where water levels changed.

"Our signage complies with RNLI guidance and we put signs at every entrance to the beach," he said.

"We've got A-boards on the beach as well.

"The lifeguards are there to give people help and advice and encourage them to swim within the lifeguarded area but you can never make allowances for everybody.

"It is an alien environment for some people."

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