An off-duty RNLI crew member was unexpectedly called into action when he came to the rescue of a distressed jet skier.

Aaron Briggs, 23, was with his family on Maryport Promenade on Saturday, when he saw the jet ski capsize just north of North Pier.

The father-of-three, who volunteers with the Workington crew, quickly realised the driver was in trouble.

He said: “I could see that he wasn’t lifting his head out of the water. My kids were sleeping in the car, so I called to a passer-by to call the Coastguard and I went down to the pier to see if I could help.

“I thought he was going to drown as his head kept going under the water. Luckily, I had my shorts on under my jeans, so I took my shoes and jeans off, leaving them with a dog walker and swam 200 metres out to him.”

Aaron, who has volunteered for Workington RNLI for seven years, managed to reach the casualty and got him to hold on to the jet ski, while Aaron tried to start its engine.

He added: “But its engine wouldn’t start so I swam the man back to the shore. It was about 100 metres. Anyone else would have done the same thing as me. I was just there and saw the situation unfold. I’ve not done anything special.

“The man wasn’t injured but it could have been so much worse.”

Maryport Inshore Rescue team was scrambled by the Coastguard and launched immediately.

They found the casualty being supported by Aaron in chest-deep water and helped with his recovery.

Tim Chittenden, lifeboat operations manager of Workington RNLI, said the crew was proud of Aaron’s quick-thinking.

He added: “Aaron is being very modest about it all, but thanks to his reaction, the situation did not deteriorate.

“Aaron is a valued member of our charity’s volunteer crew. Even off-duty, he saw a situation and responded. This selfless response is within the deepest traditions of the RNLI.

“We would like to take this opportunity to emphasise to all users of the water that appropriate clothing needs to be worn while at sea.

“While the weather may be nice and sunny, the sea conditions can still be extremely cold.”

A spokesperson for the Maryport Coastguard Rescue Team, who attended the incident, said: “Normally we would warn against members of the public entering the water, especially after emergency services had been alerted and confirmed on their way.

“But on this occasion as this person is known to us as a colleague from a respected rescue team. We’d like to extend the thanks of Maryport Coastguard Rescue Team to the first informant for their quick reactions and call, to the friend of the casualty for their prompt actions, and Maryport Inshore Rescue for the quick launch and recovery of the casualty and jet ski.”


The spokesperson added: “Although we are enjoying some lovely and very welcome sunshine lately we’d like to remind people that the water temperature is as low as it has been for the last few months. Cold water shock is an ever-present danger in the area.

“We’ve no wish to spoil anybody’s fun and only ask that as you do so please ensure you are properly equipped for the conditions and the activities you are undertaking, remember to check tide times and ensure you have a reliable means of summoning help should it be required.”