Women left ‘clinging for dear life’ after tide near Hastings Pier changes

Helen Kinnon suffered cuts to her arms, legs and hands, as well as bruising to her ribs and breast bone
Helen Kinnon suffered cuts to her arms, legs and hands, as well as bruising to her ribs and breast bone

A Hastings woman, who was taken to hospital after being battered in rough waters, has told her story to warn others of the dangers posed by the sea.

Helen Kinnon, 55, was out kayaking with her friend Irene on Wednesday morning (July 24) when the tide, which up until that point had been calm, suddenly turned.

Helen Kinnon suffered cuts to her arms, legs and hands, as well as bruising to her ribs and breast bone

Helen Kinnon suffered cuts to her arms, legs and hands, as well as bruising to her ribs and breast bone

Helen said 5ft waves appeared out of nowhere, dragging her and her friend closer to the pier.

Both women capsized and found themselves clinging to a structure in the water.

After 15 minutes of struggling to keep above the water, Helen said a member of staff from Calypso Kayak Hire paddled over to help them.

She said: “I was clinging onto a structure and the barnacles were shredding my hands, my arms, shoulders, legs.

Helen Kinnon suffered cuts to her arms, legs and hands, as well as bruising to her ribs and breast bone

Helen Kinnon suffered cuts to her arms, legs and hands, as well as bruising to her ribs and breast bone

“The guy came over – I think his name was Alex – and said one of us needs to let go and get into his kayak.

“At that point Alex’s kayak capsized and I came away from them. I was now under the pier and I was fighting for my life.

“The tide pushed me against this kind of structure and I was clinging on for dear life. I was screaming for help and it felt like forever.

“I thought ‘this is it’. I had accepted it and kind of given up. I thought my time had come.”

Seeing the two women in trouble from the beach, Helen’s partner Tony Gaskin attempted to rescue them but his boat also capsized in the rough waters, forcing him to return to the beach.

After 45 minutes of clinging on, Alex was able to reach Helen. She said: “He told me to jump into the water and hold onto the front of his boat while he tried to get us out.

“I was having to duck under the water. I was exhausted.

“I finally got to the beach and that’s the last thing I remember.”

On the beach, Helen lost consciousness and was helped by Harry Higginson, an RNLI lifeguard who had arrived on scene. Helen suffered bruising to her ribs and breast bone, as well as multiple cuts and bruises on her legs, hands and arms.

Irene, who was rescued by Alex with the help of lifeguard Leon Shaw using a rescue tube, did not require hospital treatment.

James Blything, on duty at the Pier Base, kept the Solent Coastguard updated as the scenario unfolded. He entered the water with a rescue tube and helped one of the instructors.

Steve Hall, the owner of Calypso Kayak Hire, praised his staff member for his bravery.

He said the water had been calm when the two women first went out but it quickly changed.

“The tide was out and the water was about 3ft deep. By the time they were pushed towards the pier, the waves were about 5ft high,” he said.

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