This dramatic footage shows the moment a lifeboat crew saved two terrified girls who were swept out to sea – on an inflatable SWAN.
The two girls, aged seven and nine, were sitting on the plastic bird that was attached to a line held by their father.
But the line slipped through his fingers and in the windy conditions the inflatable craft was swept straight out to sea.
In the one-minute video, volunteers from RNLI race out to sea at Minehead, Somerset, in a lifeboat as a helicopter hovers above them.
Once the girls have been collected, a lifeguard asks ‘Where’s you mummy?’
One girl points to the beach in the distance and responds: “Over there!”
The lifeguard then asks the girl to confirm if just the two of them were on the inflatable – before giving a thumbs up to the helicopter above.
They are then returned to their distraught mum and dad at the beach.
Phil Sanderson, lifeboat helm, said before the dad had time to react the wind pushed the inflatable several yards away.
He said: “He waded into the water and tried to swim out to them but the thing was just moving too quickly and he couldn’t get near it.
“He did exactly the right thing: he shouted to the girls to stay on the inflatable and then the family dialled 999.”
Phil said that by the time the lifeboats arrived the inflatable was almost half a mile offshore – and still moving rapidly seawards.
He added: “Clearly the girls were very frightened by then but we soon had them aboard and reunited with their family.”