Double alert as two drivers cross flooded causeway at Holy Island, Northumberland

Coastguards were alerted when two drivers within minutes of each other crossed a flooded causeway at Holy Island, Northumberland

The new traffic warning sign at the Holy Island Causeway
The new traffic warning sign at the Holy Island Causeway

TWO drivers had to be warned within minutes of each other about the dangers of driving across the flooded causeway at Holy Island in Northumberland.

Coastguards were alerted after the first car was seen heading towards it an hour after the safe crossing time.

Although the causeway was under two foot of water, the driver managed to reverse back onto dry land by the time the emergency services got to them.

As the coastguards were speaking to them about the dangers of the crossing they had to stop another vehicle from attempting to do the same thing.

The incidents sparked a barrage of criticism on Facebook and had led to a safety warning about the causeway, which has witnessed a number of incidents over the years where drivers have been caught out by the tide.

A coastguard spokesman last night said: “The coastguard would urge members of the public to check tide times when visiting any part of the coastline and if there is any water on the causeway do not drive through it, no matter how deep it is. If you see anyone in distress or you think they may be in distress, dial 999 and ask for the coastguard.”

The latest incident started with a couple in their 20s who tried to cross the flooded causeway in a black Ford Fiesta at around 3.45pm on Tuesday.

The last safe crossing time had been 2.30pm and the causeway was not open again until 7.45pm. This information was displayed at either end of the crossing and widely advertised.

The vehicle was spotted on the causeway’s bridge and emergency services were called. The Holy Island Coastguard team deployed its 4x4 vehicle. While en route, the Fiesta reversed back onto dry land. As they were giving the couple advice on safe crossing, another vehicle passed the coastguard’s Land Rover heading to the flooded crossing.

Coastguards stopped the vehicle, in which there was another couple, from crossing. They said they thought the island ‘had gone very quiet’ and were going to leave. Again, the couple were given safety advice.

The incidents sparked criticism on Facebook. One user wrote: “People who have to be rescued should be fined or made to pay the costs of any call out plus points on their licence for dangerous driving.

“If they are blind enough not to see the signs – they shouldn’t be driving.”

Another added: “They seem to have no regard for their safety or that of the emergency services.”

There has been a spate of motorists trying to cross the causeway while it was under water in recent years.

Last month, a coach carrying 40 passengers tried to negotiate the flooded crossing, damaging the vehicle and passengers’ luggage.

Variable message signs were put at either end of the causeway by Northumberland County Council in October following a successful trial.

Other measures have also been implemented to address the issue.

If there is any water on the causeway do not drive through it, no matter how deep it is


David Whetstone
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Graeme Whitfield
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