A RESCUE operation was launched after walkers with a child tried to cross a Northumberland causeway while it was chest deep in water.
A coastguard official on Holy Island spotted three adults with a youngster walking across the island’s causeway when it was up to 4ft deep and close to high tide.
It was not known last night how old the child is or where the walkers were from.
At 2.26pm, the official contacted Humber Coastguard which asked Seahouses RNLI to launch its inshore lifeboat. The last safe time for crossing had been 1pm and the next was 6.10pm. Tide times are clearly displayed at either end of the causeway.
The lifeboat was launched but soon after the crew learned the walkers had begun heading back towards the island.
Once it was confirmed they were safe, the lifeboat returned to station.
The walkers were spoken to by the island’s coastguard officers, and were said to have “bruised knees” and to be “not sorry”.
The incident was the second Seahouses RNLI has been called to at the causeway this year. In the first, a car was stranded.
The island’s coastguard has attended more incidents, all involving stranded vehicles, although there have been fewer so far in 2012 than in previous years.
Northumberland County Council carried out a two-week trial at Easter of variable message signs at either end of the crossing warning which warned motorists to check the tide times. It recently announced it was to put up permanent signs.
Ian Clayton, Seahouses RNLI’s lifeboat ops manager and station press officer, said: "This was yet another incident where the public seem to be unaware of the depth of water that can cover the causeway, which can be made more dangerous by fast flowing currents.
"They had been walkers, they had no vehicle. It is just typical. These folks just do not seem to understand that the water gets quite deep in the middle of the causeway and the worrying bit is that the tide can knock you off your feet if you are not careful.
"That is a worrying aspect – that someone gets swept off that causeway and you have got a real emergency on your hands. It is just unbelievable. We do not normally get many problems with walkers."