Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Pupils' Tears for Dead Pal

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Pupils' Tears for Dead Pal

Article excerpt

Byline: By Peter Taylor

Three friends rescued in freak-wave accident but girl of 12 dies after being swept out the furthest survivors of the Seaton Sluice seaside tragedy were today trying to come to terms with the loss of their friend.

Jade Anderson, 12, died after she and three pals were swept out to sea at Collywell Bay on Saturday afternoon.

Brave rescuers pulled friends Beth Gardner and Emma Douglas, both 12, and 13-year-old Katie Oakfield from the freezing water.

Northumbria Police officer Darren Purvis dived into the icy sea, which at just seven degrees Celsius could kill within half an hour.

But Seaton Sluice Middle School pupil Jade died hours later in hospital. The other three girls were sent home to recover after treatment.

At Beth's home today in Naylor Place, Seaton Sluice, her sister Holly, 14, said: "She is all right but she is in shock and still in bed."

At the home of Emma, who lives in the same street, it was the same story.

Her father Robert, 51, said: "She is in a bad state. She has to get treatment for shock."

Beth, who was Jade's best pal, told yesterday how she tried to hold on to Jade's hand in the water but the pair were tossed apart by waves.

Beth said: "I was next to Jade when the waves swept us off the rocks. We tried to hold on to each other but we just weren't strong enough.

"I can't believe this happened to Jade."

Yesterday, Beth's mother Louise Gardner, 41, said: "They were walking on the rocks. Emma and Katie were together with Jade and Beth nearby, then a freak wave just swept them straight into the sea.

"All the girls are incredibly upset and we've been told to keep a very close eye on them for the next 24 hours just in case."

The girls were playing together on the rocks at Collywell Bay in the picturesque seaside resort of Seaton Sluice at around 3pm on Saturday, when they were hit by a wave as high winds slammed the coast line.

They were spotted by fishermen and passers-by as they struggled in the water.

Eye-witness Cath Robbins, 65, of Whitley Bay, described how two fishermen first plunged into the water as the youngsters were swept 30ft from the shoreline. They rescued two of the girls and then PC Darren Purvis tied a rope around his waist as a paramedic and two other people held on to it.

He plunged into the swell and pulled Emma free. Jade had been dragged the furthest out to sea and was only spotted by a Sea King from RAF Boulmer.

The helicopter crew used the downdraft from their machine to blow Jade inshore and PC Purvis then swam back out to carry her to safety.

Jade lived in Deneside, Seghill, where her death has devastated the community.

Tom Moran, headteacher of Seaton Sluice Middle School, where all the girls were pupils, led tributes to her.

He said: "Jade was an absolutely wonderful girl, a real star. …

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