EMERGENCY services were scrambled to save a stricken couple trapped on a causeway for the first time this year.
Tourists in a blue Vauxhall Astra tried to cross the causeway at Holy Island while it was under water on Thursday afternoon.
The couple, thought to be in their thirties or forties, tried to cross at around 1pm to get back to Haggerston Castle where they were staying.
They admitted failing to consult the safe crossing times which are displayed at either end of the causeway and said they had thought the water did not look deep.
Despite criticising them for their actions, rescuers are taking encouragement from the fact the first incident on the causeway has come at a time when there had been 15 call-outs by this time year.
The couple’s attempt to cross came almost two hours outside the safe times – the cut-off point having been 11.10am.
Water began coming in the car’s doors and the vehicle broke down. The occupants then phoned the emergency services.
Northumbria Police informed Humber Coastguard which asked its Holy Island team and Seahouses RNLI to launch at 1.23pm.
The coastguard set out in its 4x4, reached the vehicle and transported the occupants, who were said to be wet and terrified but unharmed, back to Holy Island.
The Seahouses team had launched its inshore lifeboat which was stood down and returned to station once informed of the rescue at 1.32pm.
The couple contacted their insurance company to make arrangements for the car to be recovered once the tide receded, but it is thought to be a write-off.
The rescue was the first of 2012 and the first since Northumberland County Council carried out a two-week trial of variable message signs which told drivers to check the tide times over Easter.
Ryan Douglas, station manager for Holy Island coastguard, last night branded the tourists foolish.
“There was a good stretch of water. To drive on and keep going when it is coming up to the door level, something has got to give.”
However, Mr Douglas said the fact this was the first rescue of the year was a positive sign.
He was unsure whether the low number this year is down to publicity over the issue or the improved safety measures.
However Mr Douglas did feel the fact that fewer visitors have come to the island so far this year may be the reason, and that there will be more rescues once numbers pick up.
“It is the first one this year so we are not doing too bad.”