UPDATED: Bizarre late-night rescue off Piel Island as car gets stuck trying to cross sands in dark while tide comes in (From The Westmorland Gazette)
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UPDATED: Bizarre late-night rescue off Piel Island as car gets stuck trying to cross sands in dark while tide comes in
A CAR became stuck late last night after its driver attempted to drive on the sands near Piel Island in the dark as the tide came in.
The incident happened off the coast near Barrow when the car got stuck up to its back axle and unable to move.
A second car belonging to a resident of the Island which arrived to help free it, then broke down and also became stuck, said officials.
Both vehicles are understood to be 4x4s.
The incident led to calls out for rescuers based at Roa Island, Walney and Ulverston, as well as coming to the attention of Liverpool Coastguard.
The incident occurred on Walney Sands between Piel Island and a place called Snab Point.
Liverpool Coastguard received a report about two vehicles and three people being stuck and requested assistance from Barrow's lifeboat which launched at 10.50pm.
Officials said today that low water had been at 10.20pm and the tide was just beginning to flood, making the situation 'dangerous'.
Units from Furness Coastguard and Ulverston Inshore Rescue mustered at Snab Point with the latter team providing quad bikes, as the Barrow Inshore Rescue lifeboat was on alert.
Team members searched the sands using night sights and parachute flares to light up the area.
The cars and people were eventually found towards the north of Piel Island.
A statement said: "Apparently one vehicle had been attempting to cross the sands when it had become stuck up to the back axle and unable to move. A second vehicle which arrived to try and extricate the first then broke down and neither vehicle could be moved or towed."
"The occupants of the vehicles were persuaded to leave the scene and the Coastguard and Ulverston teams then transported them to Piel Island and Walney and everyone was off the sands by 12.05am with the lifeboat being rehoused at 12.10am."
Second Cox’n Jonny Long, of Barrow Inshore Lifeboat, said: “The sands are a dangerous place to try and cross especially when the tide is flooding and at night. All of the teams did a good job in getting these people safely to the shore.”
Officials said it is not uncommon for people to drive on and off Piel Island - including residents and fishermen - but those who did generally had a good understanding of the tides.
John Falvey, for Barrow Inshore Lifeboat, declined to condemn those involved.
He said: "We don't know what the circumstances were - whether they were residents. It's irresponsible to attempt it if you do not know what you are doing or are not used to going across it, but we don't know who the people were or what they were doing."
The issue now is what will happen to both marooned cars.
"The thing that does cause concern is that a few weeks ago a vehicle was abandoned and got stuck in the mud. It has started to sink and eventually it will become covered by sand," said Mr Falvey.
"But even if we can't see even one inch - or it is not marked by a buoy - we could go over it and it could open up the bottom of the inshore boat."
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