Coastguard rescue confusion

Coastguard winching a crew member down at the scene.

Coastguard winching a crew member down at the scene. - Credit: Supplied

Emergency services tried to rescue 15 people from mud in Clevedon on Saturday, although those involved have told the Times they were not in danger and did not need any help.

A lifeboat, two helicopters, coastguard rescue teams, firefighters, police and ambulance crews were all called at about noon to Woodspring Bay after reports of people being stranded and in need of help.

They were in the area geocaching, an activity that involves using GPS to track down hidden containers known as geocaches. However, they say there was no need for the rescue attempt because they were not in any danger.

Anthony Pengelly, who was taking part in the geocache, said: “We weren’t in trouble at any point. We were just going on our merry way.

“People from the shore over-reacted and thought we were children stranded in the mud.

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“We were very bemused as we saw a helicopter come in and the ground crew were rather grumpy for wasting their time although they did deal with us calmly and fairly.

“A very organised group went out and we were fully aware of any dangers.”

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Two people were taken to shore by helicopter but, according to Mr Pengelly, they could have made it of their own accord while the rest of the group either stayed on site or made their own way back.

Despite the false alarm, Roger Reed, senior maritime operations manager for HM Coastguard, said: “This was in an extremely dangerous place and we would not encourage others to search in these areas because there are complex tidal patterns and deep mud.

“We would encourage all groups who are undertaking activities such as these to contact us with details of their event so that we have all of the information that we need to ensure the safety of those involved.”

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