Tyne & Wear

Caitlin Ruddy death: Family back RNLI drowning campaign

Caitlin Ruddy Image copyright Caitlin Ruddy Facebook
Image caption An RNLI lifeboat, a coastguard search-and-rescue helicopter and police took part in the search

The family of a 15-year-old girl who died after being swept into the sea in North Tyneside have backed a national RNLI drowning prevention campaign.

Caitlin Ruddy was hit by a wave on the north pier and thrown into the water at Cullercoats Bay on 16 January. She died after suffering a cardiac arrest.

The RNLI is campaigning to raise awareness of the dangers of water after coastal deaths hit a five-year high.

Cailtlin's stepfather Ashley Cook, said they could not thank the RNLI enough.

"What the RNLI did that night to help Caitlin, putting their lives at risk as well, we couldn't thank them enough, so that's why we want to try and support them as much as we can," he said.

Helen Williams, from the north of England RNLI, said people "underestimate" the water thinking it looks "calm, beautiful and inviting".

"The water isn't always our friend, the rips that can be in the water, the movement of the water, can quickly pull people out of their comfort zones and out of areas where they feel comfortable.

"It's about making sure that people understand what's going on on the surface might not be what's lying underneath."

Image caption The teenager was swept off the north pier at Cullercoats Bay

The RNLI said nine people died around the North East coast in 2015, with 168 people losing their lives across the UK.

Caitlin's mother, Sabrina Cook, said she would like larger signs installed near coastal areas to raise awareness of the dangers of the sea.

She said: "I wouldn't want any parent to have to go through what we've been through.

"It gets harder not easier. Parents just need to cherish their kids' lives really because anything can happen."

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