Family pay tribute to stranger and RNLI as Penryn toddler pulled not breathing from sea

Phoebe Griffith meets the lifeguards that saved her life at Perranporth

Phoebe Griffith meets the lifeguards that saved her life at Perranporth

First published in Cornwall
Last updated

The mother of a girl who was pulled blue and not breathing from the surf at a Cornwall beach has spoken of her gratitude to the RNLI and the stranger who saved her life.

Phoebe Griffiths, aged two and a half, was at the beach when she ran off from her grandfather and into the sea, before being taken out by a current, and when she washed back in a 17 year-old holidaymaker found her laid face down in the water and thought she was dead.

Phoebe's mother, Rosie Griffiths, said: “He pulled her out of the water.

“He knew how to give her CPR and mouth-to-mouth and then sent two boys to get the lifeguards, who were there on quad bikes in seconds, and cuddled her and kept her warm until the ambulance arrived.”

Rosie was at her home in Penryn at the time of the accident, and the first she knew about it was when her father called from the Royal Cornwall Hospital in Truro. He was suffering from shock, and initially told her that Phoebe would soon be discharged, before she got another call saying she had better go to the hospital.

She said: “They told me that she'd been found five metres out but in shallow water.

“He pulled her out and she was blue, they think she'd been drowning for about a minute.

“Lots of water came out when he gave her CPR. He thought that she was dead. They said that if she hadn't been found exactly when she was she wouldn't have made it.

“It's hard to believe that it happened, I got to the hospital and she was conscious but very confused and very cold, not herself at all.

“She got better over the next couple of hours and then she got worse.

“They said they didn't know whether she would make it overnight but she made a full recovery. You wouldn't know anything had happened.”

According to the RNLI Phoebe was found in a dangerous part of Perranporth beach called the gap, which is known to have a strong rip current, and where bathing is not advised.

After seeing the man who found her waving for help, four lifeguards went to his aid, and the group was assisted by an off-duty nurse and a paramedic.

Due to the incoming tide they twice had to move her up the beach during treatment, before she was sent to Truro by ambulance in a conscious state.

Ben Gardiner, RNLI lifeguard supervisor, said at the time: "The young man who initially retrieved the girl showed a fantastic initial response to the terrible event and his quick thinking meant she received medical treatment as soon as possible. The lifeguards acted with the highest levels of professionalism and competence to help the young girl. We wish her a full and speedy recovery."

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