A concerned member of the public called Northumbria Police at 15:40 on Sunday to inform them that a woman was on the wrong side of the railings on top of the cliffs near Marsden Grotto, South Shields. Police requested assistance from the UK Coastguard Operations Centre at Humber who immediately requested the launch of both Tynemouth RNLI inshore and all weather lifeboats, and tasked Sunderland Coastguard Rescue Team to the incident. Police, Paramedics and Fire & Rescue also sped to the scene. A Coastguard Rescue helicopter from Prestwick was also tasked.
Police officers attempted to speak to the woman but she fell from the cliffs, landing in the water and suffering severe injuries.
A police officer pulled the woman from the sea and onto the beach, where paramedics from North East Ambulance Hazardous Area Response Team – and members of the Coastguard team tried to help the casualty.
The lifeboats arrived on scene soon after and it was decided that the best option for the casualty was to evacuate her from the beach onto the inshore lifeboat, transfer her onto the all weather lifeboat and take her to waiting paramedics at South Shields ferry landing.
The inshore lifeboat came onto the beach after skillful handling by the helm in difficult surf, and the casualty, in a stretcher, and two paramedics were brought on board. They then rushed to the all weather lifeboat which then sped her to the ferry landing, while the paramedics continuously applied CPR.
South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade assisted the lifeboat crew in transferring the casualty to to an ambulance which took her to hospital. All of the rescue teams were then stood down.
Unfortunately the casualty was pronounced dead at hospital and our thoughts are with the lady’s family during this very upsetting time.
The tragedy came as a campaign group is bidding to set up extra security on the cliff tops. Called Cliff Angels South Shields, the online group has more than 3,600 Facebook members. The group was launched by Kirk Wilson after the death of teenager Chirelle Calder, from Whiteleas, who fell from the cliffs in August. The father-of-two’s idea is to have a bus parked up along the coast which people will be able to visit if they are feeling upset or vulnerable. The bus will be staffed with volunteers. Mr Wilson, from South Shields, has already met with officials from South Tyneside Council and the National Trust and is now on a mission to raise enough cash to make his dream a reality.
Anyone who needs help or advice can call the Samaritans on 0191 232 7272 or free on 116 123.