A father has spoken of his horror after he watched his 20-year-old son and other relatives being swept away to sea following a rip tide.
The incident, at the picturesque Beadnell Bay in Northumbria, happened when a group of five family members were playing in the water on various bouyancy devices.
Several waves changed direction causing the current to pull two teenagers and three adults, who were on holiday, out to sea.
It prompted a major rescue operation and panic on the beach for the onlooking relations.
Businessman David Sheard, of Hebden Bridge, who’s son Isaac Sheard was in the sea, said: “They were playing in the water and it all happened very quickly.
“A large set of waves changed and took them completely by surprise dragging them out.”
Moments later after the frantic family, who were on the beach, raised the alarm, two lifeboats were launched from Seahouses - four miles from the bay.
RNLI crews recovered two people at first before eventually locating the three others and pulling them from the North Sea.
“When the rescue boat returned, there were floods of tears and it was a massive relief for our family. It was quite emotional,” David added.
“We were unbelievably grateful for the fact that everyone was wearing some kind of buoyancy device. Everyone either had a wetsuit, body board or jacket on and that helped because they were out there for nearly an hour.
”I cannot say enough how good the RNLI were. The response was fantastic.”
Ambulance crews at the scene checked everyone over who was pulled from the sea and three of the five relatives rescued were taken to Wansbeck Hospital at Ashington near Newcastle for treatment for shock, possible hypothermia and for swallowing sea water, which can cause secondary drowning - a fatal condition that can happen up to 24 hours later.
One of the relatives, who watched on from the beach but did not want to be named, said she wanted to warn people about dangerous currents.
She said: “Had the people in my family not acted bravely and sensibly in their situation, I fear that they would not have been in such good condition when the lifeboat brought them to safety.
“I strongly support that the wider public should know about the dangers of the sea, and in particular the risks of rip currents and it is important that public knowledge of the wonderful work that the RNLI undertake is increased.”
Two others girls who had drifted away seperately from the group of five as the rip tide struck were rescued unharmed by people on the beach.
RNLI Seahouses Lifeboat operations manager Ian Clayton, said: “We responded to a call concerning a group of people who had been washed out to sea.
“It took us eight to ten minutes to reach the group and the outcome would have been different if we were called any later. We got to them in the nick of time.
“They were all in severe shock and some of them were suffering with mild hypothermia, as they had been there for about an hour.”