Call, Tell, Throw: Passers-by do their bit in swimmers river rescue 

Call, Tell, Throw: Passers-by do their bit in swimmers river rescue 

Three young people in danger of being swept away in a river by the coast were saved by members of the public who followed the safety message of Call, Tell, Throw. 
Littlehampton pier

While some called 999 to alert the Coastguard and told the swimmers advice to keep afloat, others threw life-rings for them to grab onto. 

The incident happened at about 6.40pm on Tuesday 30 May by the beach at Littlehampton, West Sussex, where a group in the sea was drawn by a tidal surge into the mouth of the River Arun, near the pier. 

While one managed to make it safely back to land, the other three were unable to overcome the pull of the water and faced the threat of being carried further up the river. 

Two were saved by clinging onto life-rings thrown from the waterside by passers-by, and a third grabbed tight onto a handhold. 

As the youngsters continued to hold fast, Littlehampton and Shoreham Coastguard Rescue Teams made their way to the scene and Littlehampton's RNLI inshore lifeboat was sent to help. 

Before the trio could be carried away by the water, the RNLI crew picked them up and brought them back to the lifeboat station, suffering from the cold and with scratches and grazes. 

There they were checked over by waiting paramedics from the South East Coast Ambulance Service, and reunited with the fourth member of the group.  

The first 999 call was made by Arundel man Kevin Lochner (46), who was fishing on the pier with his son Max (13) when he saw the group being swept towards the river. 

Kevin Lochner with son Max Lochner
Kevin and Max Lochner were fishing when they raised the alarm (Photo: Kevin Lochner)

Kevin, who runs a birds of prey display team, said: “Max said call the Coastguard, so we dialled 999 and talked them through what was happening. 

“I watched the swimmers and thought, ‘They’re not going to make it,’ and one by one they were dragged towards the river. 

“I was shouting to them to keep swimming and to grab the side of the wall by the river. 

“There were a couple of ladies on the other side, and I was shouting at them to chuck the life-ring into the water. One of the boys held onto it and then they chucked another in.” 

Kevin added: “I was worried for them – they could have drowned. I thought one of them was going to go under. 

“It was a scary experience and not a nice feeling. You can’t just jump in to help, because you read stories of people who do that drowning as well. 

“It was good seeing them being pulled into the lifeboat. Max asked me who the coastguard were, so I explained they were mostly volunteers, like the RNLI, who have to get there as fast as they can to help people.” 

And he concluded: “If you’re in the current there’s nothing you can do. If you get stuck and no one helps, you’re in danger – it’s very simple. I would say to everyone, just be aware.” 

Kevin and Max Lochner
Kevin (left) said it was a 'scary experience' for him and Max (Photo: Kevin Lochner)

The actions of the public that day echo the Call, Tell, Throw message of national safety campaign #RespectTheWater, run by members of the National Water Safety Forum (NWSF), which includes HM Coastguard. 

Matt Pavitt, Coastal Operations Area Commander, explained: "This was a clear example of how members of the public can safely do their bit to help people in danger, without entering the water and putting themselves and others at risk. 

"Thankfully in this case, apart from being cold and suffering a few grazes, all four who were in the water could go home after being seen by paramedics. Sadly, not every incident ends so well." 

Matt added: "In emergencies in coastal waters, our simple advice is: Call, Tell, Throw. 

"Call 999 and ask for Coastguard. Tell the person in distress to float on their back. Throw them a lifeline. 

"Just by following these simple steps we could all save a life without putting ourselves in danger." 



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