Terrified family is saved from Forth

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A TEENAGE girl suffering from a heart condition and a toddler in a pushchair were saved in a dramatic rescue on the Forth as a family found themselves stranded by the incoming tide.

A day trip to Cramond Island for the family-of-six almost ended in tragedy when they were trapped after attempting to return to the mainland.

As the tide began to come in rather than wait on the island for help they made the potentially disastrous decision to try and walk back.

They were up to their knees in water on a concrete pipe hundreds of metres from shore and were only minutes from being completely submerged when a lifeboat crew came to their rescue.

Mark Corelli, 30, and Catherine Aitchison, 23, from Gorebridge, were snatched to safety along with four children aged between three and 15.

One of the children, a 13-year-old girl, was taken to hospital for checks by a waiting ambulance immediately after the rescue on Saturday afternoon. Mr Corelli was treated for hypothermia.

Lifeboat officers involved in the dramatic rescue today issued a warning to people who get stranded on the island - a popular spot for people who can walk out from the mainland in low tide. The drama unfolded around 3pm when the family, faced with being cut off on the island by the rapidly rising tide, opted to try and walk back to the mainland along the three-quarters of a mile causeway.

But the rising tide quickly engulfed the stretch and they found themselves stuck hundreds of metres out.

Luckily, one of the family was carrying a mobile phone so they desperately phoned 999 for help.

Forth coastguards were alerted and the South Queensferry lifeboat was scrambled.

A lifeboat spokesman said: "Two adults and four children, one with a heart condition, were trapped by the fast incoming tide perched on a concrete pipe halfway between Cramond Island and Cramond.

"The RNLI Queensferry Lifeboat was alerted by the coastguard and the crew of helmsman Danny Smart, Brian Suddon and Brian Fairhurst rushed to the scene to find . . . (the family) stranded up to their knees in water on the pipe - which was six feet from the sea bed - complete with pushchair.

"The crew floated the family off the pipe to the safety of the lifeboat which transported them to Cramond where an ambulance was waiting."

The spokesman added: "With the particularly high tides at this time of year in less than 30 minutes the sea water would have been over their heads. The advice is if you are trapped on Cramond Island stay on the island until help arrives and do not attempt to wade shore as this is extremely dangerous owing to the speed of the incoming tide and before you leave Cramond check the tides."

A Forth Coastguard spokesman said: "We received a call by a family of six who were cut off by the incoming tide. One of the children, a 13-year-old girl, was reported to suffer from heart condition.

"We called out the coastguard and the family were taken to shore. The girl was checked out by paramedics and taken to hospital."

The number of rescues involving people stranded by the tide on the island has risen dramatically in recent years.

South Queensferry lifeboat had its busiest year in 2000 - and the second-highest number of call-outs in the country.

The 18 volunteers at the station were involved in 62 operations, an increase of more than a third on the previous year’s total of 45.

The increase was put down to the rise in mobile phone ownership, with more than 100 people calling after getting caught on Cramond Island.