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Stranded Hartlepool pair refuse coastguard rescue

Decline to ditch driftwood booty despite rising tide

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Two people who were yesterday cut off by the rising tide at the mouth of the River Tees at Hartlepool refused a lifeboat rescue unless the emergency services also agreed to save their shopping trolley full of driftwood.

The Maritime And Coastguard Agency (MCA) explains that at 4:14 pm, Humber Coastguard received a report of a stranded man and woman, and duly dispatched the Hartlepool Coastguard Rescue Team, which in turn called in the Hartlepool Inshore Lifeboat.

The MCA continues: "When the team arrived on scene they could see that the female was wet and cold and suffering from minor hypothermia. The pair had been collecting driftwood in a shopping trolley when they had been cut off by the incoming tide.

"Although the two people were clearly in need of rescue, they refused to be taken into the lifeboat unless the RNLI team agreed to take their collection of wood and tools in the boat with them."

The rescuers, facing "the difficult situation of the woman being in need of urgent medical attention, but it not being practical for the lifeboat to transport a shopping trolley full of wood", were then obliged to call Cleveland Police, who sent in helicopter back-up.

In the event, the lifeboat was "forced to transport the wood in order that the woman’s condition not worsen", as Humber Coastguard Watch Manager put it.

Once ashore, the pair were met by an ambulance crew and police, but "refused medical treatment and left in their own vehicle".

The MCA's restrained report into the matter does contain one hint of the emergency services' opinion of Operation Driftwood, since it notes the cops "seized the wood and threw it in the river". ®

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