How Not To Die From Drowning

How Not To Die From Drowning

September 11, 2019 34 By William Morgan


I was just panicking.
I was losing energy. I was trying my
hardest to swim.
I’ve never felt so scared
of actually losing somebody.
At that moment, your life’s
not in your hands any more –
it’s in the hands of the sea.
I was starting now to believe
that maybe
I wasn’t going to make it back,
and that I was going to die.
The holiday, it had originally
been for my birthday.
We wanted to do something after
the exams had finished.
We all thought,
“Well, we’ll go to my caravan.”
And we can go swimming,
and, you know, have a laugh,
watch films,
and all that sort of stuff.
It’s sort of our first lads’
holiday, yeah.
Evan’s really outgoing,
he’s really confident,
he’s a proper social butterfly.
CAR HORN BEEPS
I’d taken some leave, to take them
up to Northumberland,
so they could spend
three days up there.
Just, like I say,
relaxing, chilling out,
and being 16-year-old boys,
basically.
On that day,
the sea was quite choppy,
so the waves were quite strong.
We’d been in the sea
the previous day,
so we were all looking forward
to going in again.
We all got to the beach,
it was freezing cold,
but, you know, we were there now,
we weren’t going to turn back.
We thought, “You know what?
We’ll still go in the water,
“we’ll just go
for a swim.”
We split off into a
couple of groups.
But me and Alex,
maybe waist deep,
we were feeling the cold,
as well.
And that was as far
as we wanted to go.
And then Jack, Chris
and Evan were just fearless,
they were just heads under
straight away.
We were all just sort of
jumping around in the water,
having a bit of fun, trying to,
like, push each other
under the waves,
and all that sort of stuff.
But then two big waves came over.
I was getting further and further
away from the rest of the group.
I could see the lads
who didn’t get washed out,
they were on the shore,
they were all shouting for help.
That’s when it really set in that
I was in trouble.
VOICEOVER: Rip currents,
sometimes called riptides,
are powerful water flows
in the opposite direction to waves.
They can pull swimmers out to sea.
Faster than an Olympic swimmer,
they can move at more than two
metres every second.
I was really panicking,
getting really upset.
I was putting all my energy into it,
swimming for like 15, 20 seconds
straight.
When I came up for a breath,
I wasn’t actually making
any distance
towards the shore – I was,
if anything, moving further back.
If you get caught in a rip current,
it’s vital to stay calm.
Don’t try to swim against it,
you’ll only tire yourself out.
If you can, swim sideways,
parallel to the beach,
to escape the grip of
the rip current.
I could see his head going
under the water,
it was almost like
seeing him lose hope.
I remember Adam just turning
around and shouting, “Call
the coastguard, Simon”.
If you can’t swim,
or exhaust yourself,
you can drown in just three minutes.
I made the call within a minute,
I didn’t want to waste any time.
It was clear that he wasn’t going
to get back by himself.
Always try to swim on
a life-guarded beach,
between the red and yellow flags.
If there’s no lifeguard,
and you see someone in trouble,
call 999 and ask for the coastguard.
It was absolutely terrifying.
Time kind of stood still.
I just wanted to keep my eyes on him
and stop anybody else going
into the water after him.
The overriding feeling was
helplessness.
Evan was the one person that I just
would do absolutely anything for.
I was thinking, “Will I be able
to swim out and get him
“from where I am?” When I looked
out, I thought, “He’s nowhere near.”
Don’t try to swim out
and rescue someone.
You’ll risk getting caught in
the rip current, as well,
no matter how strong
a swimmer you are.
It was about 45 minutes that the
whole thing played out for.
And in that 45 minutes
it was kind of a bubble.
The cold was making
the tiredness worse.
I was panicking, I was trying my
hardest just to fight the water,
before I remembered,
“I’m running out of energy here,”
I need to try something different.
So, that’s when I decided that
I should lay on my back.
Evan has to focus on staying afloat.
He needs to lean back,
raise his hips,
and spread out his arms and legs.
By breathing slowly and deeply,
air fills his lungs
and improves his buoyancy,
allowing him to conserve energy
while he waits for a break in the
current or for help to arrive.
I was just thinking
about everything.
I was thinking about, maybe,
“I’m never going to see my family,
“my friends, my girlfriend never
going to see them ever again.”
We ran round onto the pier.
It was sharp,
things were cutting into my feet,
and it was hurting,
but that didn’t matter.
We could hear Uncle Simon shouting,
telling Evan that he loved him,
that he was going to be all right.
I just kept shouting
for him to stay awake,
and that help was on its way,
and just to stay where he was.
Looking, thinking, “16 years of
someone you’ve loved,
“someone you’ve nurtured,
someone you’ve looked after,
just gone in an instant.”
Having to watch Uncle Simon
look at his son drowning,
it was the worst experience
of my life.
Another wave came up,
quite a big wave, similar to
the one that dragged me out.
But that one pulled me
further in towards the shore.
But then I saw from the corner of
my eye the area where the yachts,
they get moored,
so I thought, “Well, maybe I can try
“and get towards there.”
I didn’t have the physical strength
to pull myself up onto the yacht.
My body was just completely
cramping up
from being in the water for so long.
Evan has been in the water
for over 30 minutes,
so hypothermia is setting in.
His core, brain
and body temperatures start to cool,
leaving him confused and making it
harder to move his limbs.
Luckily for Evan, one of the surfers
who had came up,
just to make the most of the
big waves that were there,
he reached Evan.
He pulled himself up onto
one of the moored boats,
and then he managed to pull
Evan up, as well.
I just completely broke down.
When I was in the boat
I just gave him a big hug
and I was like,
“Thank you. You’ve saved me.”
Call an ambulance
and try to get the casualty indoors.
Replace wet clothing with
dry layers or a blanket,
and keep the head warm.
Keep the person seated and give them
a sweet, warm drink, if you can.
Watch them closely,
even 10 or 20 minutes after a rescue
they can pass out
and stop breathing.
If they do, you need to give CPR.
He was white, his lips were blue,
but he was still awake
and he was conscious.
I just collapsed to my knees
and cried, I think.
It was just…relief.
It just came flooding through
that he was safe at that point.
We walked into the
room where he was.
There was just a little curtain
in-between him and some other beds.
He was attached to a little
heart-monitoring machine,
and his heart rate shot up when me
and Alex and everyone went in,
and that was obviously because
he must have been
really happy to see us.
It was a little bit scary,
going back into the water for the
first time.
It’s made me much more aware of the
water, and the dangers of it.
The sea is unforgiving,
and it can punish you.
Had he not known what to do
in that circumstance,
he would’ve died and
we would’ve lost a child.
I wouldn’t have been able to take
him to his first prom.
I wouldn’t have been able to see
him open his GCSE results.
It brought us really close
as friends –
now we’re all pretty much
inseparable.
And it’s the same with my dad,
it’s brought us
really close together, knowing how
fortunate I was to be able to
have him before and after,
and how it could’ve been different.