Rugby player from Wigan dies after being swept out to sea in horrific rip tide

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A rugby player from Wigan is understood to have died after being rescued from the sea in Yorkshire.

The man was swimming with a teenage boy and a girl off Reighton Gap, four miles south of Filey at around 2pm on Thursday when they were swept out to sea after getting caught in a rip tide.

The children were pulled from the water by members of the public and the man, aged 55, was rescued by an RNLI lifeboat, but later pronounced dead.

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He has since been named locally as David Fell, from Wigan, who played rugby league with Salford and Rochdale Hornets in the 1980s and 1990s. He also played for Orrell RUFC.

The coastline at FileyThe coastline at Filey
The coastline at Filey

A spokesman for North Yorkshire Police said: "Police were called by the coastguard at about 2.45pm yesterday to a report of people in difficulty in the sea at Reighton. A 55-year-old man was rescued by the RNLI, but sadly later pronounced dead. Two teenagers were taken to hospital for treatment. Enquiries are ongoing.”

John Ward, from Filey RNLI, said: "Just before 2pm, Humber Coastguard requested the immediate launch of Filey lifeboat following multiple 999 calls that three persons were in great difficulties in the sea off Reighton Gap, some four miles south of Filey.

"As there was already an Atlantic 85 crew at the boathouse preparing to launch on exercise, it was decided to send that boat.

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"In view of the nature of the call, the A85 was rapidly launched and with its top speed of over 35 knots, the crew were on scene very quickly.

David FellDavid Fell
David Fell

"A crew member entered the water to assist a man in difficulties whilst the other two persons appeared to have made it safely to shore. As the man’s condition was so serious, it was decided to transfer the casualty to Coble Landing in Filey at top speed by boat to the waiting paramedics who were attending along with both a Coastguard helicopter and the Yorkshire Air Ambulance.

"In the meantime, Filey’s D Class lifeboat Braund was launched to assist Coastguard teams and paramedics at Reighton with the other two casualties, both of whom were taken to hospital.

“The lifeboat crews quickly launched the Atlantic 85 lifeboat and were able to take advantage of its top speed to reach the casualties so quickly. It has been a harrowing experience for everyone and we thank all our volunteers who attended as well as the Coastguard teams, police, paramedics and air crews.”

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Micky Free was flying a drone on the beach and used it to help locate the casualties in the water.

He said: "I was the drone operator on the beach and I led the public to the three in trouble in the sea. The girl was rescued by a brave man and a couple of others from the beach and I led my drone to the boy that needed help. If not for my brave wife Gemma and another woman, the boy would not have made it back to land.

"I am so proud that members of the public risked their lives in the rescue of others that they did not even know."

Reighton Gap, which is close to the Reighton Sands holiday park, is notorious for rip tides, In summer 2019, there were seven call-outs to swimmers who had been swept out in just one week.

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