A hero father pulled a family of six including two children to safety and gave life-saving CPR after they were swept out to sea off Cornwall.
Kevin Viles, 44, was walking near Godrevy Point, Gwithian, on Tuesday afternoon when a whole family got into trouble off the coast.
The group has been standing on rocks when six of them were swamped by large waves and ended up in the water.
Mr Viles dramatically intervened by pulling all of them out and resuscitating one woman before emergency services arrived.
A passer-by filmed the violent waves shortly before the incident. After she stopped filming the walker heard ‘screams’ as the family were washed away.
Kevin Viles, 44, (crouching in the cap) was walking near Godrevy Point, Gwithian, on Tuesday afternoon when a whole family got into trouble off the coast. He is pictured with his family, including his partner, Lisa. His children are Kaitlin, 16, (top right) and Fletcher, 9 (left – in blue)
An RNLI lifeboat, ambulances, coastguard rescue teams, and the Cornwall Air Ambulance attended the scene.
Mr Viles, a businessman from Blackwater, said the ordeal was ‘the worst thing he’s lived through’ as he was convinced that some of the group would die.
He said: ‘We were walking the dog and walked there to see the lighthouse because my son is doing a school project about lighthouses.
‘We were taking videos when my partner Lisa ran up to me saying: ‘There are people in the water’.
‘There were about six people out in different depths, two men in the shore who looked like they were drowning.
‘There were two children, about six and eight years old, a boy and a girl.
‘They were being tossed around in the waves. I can’t really remember how I dragged them up. None of them had any energy.’
While Mr Viles was attempting to save the family, his partner Lisa, 37, alerted the coastguard at around 2.45pm.
The couple said one girl, aged roughly 12, was vomiting and collapsed afterwards.
Mr Viles said: ‘I was passing them to my family and my family was helping them up the steps.
‘A woman washed in, face down. The men wanted to help, but they were helpless, they were exhausted.
‘It felt like she was gone. We had waves crashing over us still. I tried to give her CPR but her jaw was locked.
‘Someone gave her chest compressions while I was trying to wake her up. She breathed a little bit.
‘We had to carry her up. She was the last one to come up. We put coats onto them and the emergency services started to arrive.’
A lifeboat seen in a still photo attending the rescue on Wednesday, at a beach in St Ives Bay
A passer-by filmed the violent waves shortly before the incident. After she stopped filming the walker heard ‘screams’ as the family were washed away
Mr Viles’s children Kaitlin, 16, and Fletcher, 9, consoled the youngsters who had just been rescued.
While he estimated it took about 20 minutes for the emergency services to arrive, Mr Viles said it felt ‘like a lifetime’.
Mr Viles said: ‘It was just crazy. It is unbelievable that they are still alive. It was a miracle. I saw people who were dead as far as I’m concerned.
‘It’s been pretty crazy. I’m a bit shocked by it all. A couple of minutes before I was eating an ice cream. It was the worst thing I’ve ever lived.’
All of the people who fell into the sea were pulled out of the water.
Some were later passed into the care of the ambulance service and taken to the Royal Cornwall Hospital.
Mr Viles has since received messages of thanks from the family and the emergency services.
But he said he was disappointed by some ‘shocking’ comments about the family on social media.
Mr Viles said: ‘People were saying how ‘stupid’ they are. They were on holiday from London so none of them had any experience.
‘They’re just really good people. The two dads were incredible.’
HM Coastguard said nine people ended up in the water in total.
Mr Viles – seen with his partner, Lisa – dramatically intervened by pulling all six of them out and resuscitating one woman before emergency services arrived
An RNLI lifeboat, ambulances, coastguard rescue teams, and the Cornwall Air Ambulance attended the scene
A spokesman for the coastguard said: ‘At 2.45pm on October 28, HM Coastguard received a report of multiple people, confirmed to be nine in total (adults and children), in potential difficulty in the sea water at Godrevy, on the eastern side of St Ives Bay, Cornwall.
‘The St Ives RNLI ALB, the HM Coastguard Search and Rescue Helicopter from Newquay and the Portreath Coastguard Rescue Team; along with the South Western Ambulance Service, attended the scene.
‘Lifeguards from Gwithian also assisted in the search and rescue response.
‘All persons were safely recovered, with assistance from a member of the public; and some were later passed into the care of the ambulance service for onward care to the Royal Cornwall Hospital, via air ambulance, land ambulance and coastguard helicopter.’
A South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust spokesman added: ‘We were called at 2.53pm about an incident in the area of Godrevy, Hayle.
‘We were told six people had been in the water. We assessed all patients, discharged four of them and transported the other two to hospital by land.’