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Off-duty coastguard saves lives of girls swept out to sea

Eve Watson, eight, and Fearn Hayley, ten, were saved by Jamie Magee in Sutherland.

Rescued: Eve Watson and Fearn Hayley with Jamie Magee.
Rescued: Eve Watson and Fearn Hayley with Jamie Magee. MCA

An off-duty coastguard saved the lives of two young girls swept out to sea at a beach in Sutherland.

Eve Watson, eight, and Fearn Hayley, ten, were boogie-boarding off Farr Beach in when they got into danger on August 25.

They began screaming for help and while the emergency services were on their way, local lobster fisherman and coastguard Jamie Magee sprang into action.

'I could hear them screaming and see their heads sticking out of the water.'
Jamie Magee

"I spotted the girls in the sea about 350 yards away, heading towards Glais Geo (rock stacks) on the other side of the bay," Mr Magee said.

"I could hear them screaming and see their heads sticking out of the water."

Mr Magee ran to his dinghy, which was moored nearby at Port Swingo, and headed out into the bay. It took him around 15 minutes to catch up with the girls.

He said: "Fearn was still screaming but Eve was quiet and when I pulled her aboard, it was clear that she was very, very cold.

"She was starting to suffer from the onset of hypothermia and I needed to get her to the paramedics on shore."

Fearn was wearing a wetsuit but Eve was dressed only in a swimming costume because the zip on her wetsuit had broken earlier that day.

Mr Magee brought the girls back to Port Swingo, where paramedics were waiting with blankets.

Eve's mother, Caroline Watson, said it had been a "terrifying experience".

'It is awful to think what the outcome could have been if help hadn't been so close at hand.'
Caroline Watson

"It is awful to think what the outcome could have been if help hadn't been so close at hand," she said.

"It was a terrifying time that could have ended in tragedy had it not been for the quick actions of the people on the beach in calling for help and Jamie spotting the ambulance and launching his boat.

"We are also extremely grateful to both the coastguard and RNLI for their response."

Richard Hackwell, the UK Coastguard's deputy head of coastal operations, added: "Jamie's quick thinking that afternoon saved the lives of two children.

"I'm extremely proud of his actions that day, which prove that coastguards are never off duty and are always there to help members of the public in their time of need."

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