Tombstoning spin-off in Cornwall leads to Portreath impalement fear

A new spin-off on tombstoning has led to fears a teenager will one day get impaled following a number of injuries already.

Portreath Coastguard Rescue Team have now given a warning to youngsters and their parents over the dangers of the latest craze in the village, which involves clinging to metal spikes of the breakwater and waiting for large waves to hit.

Volunteers were called out twice last night to the sea outside the Waterfront Inn, where a group of teenagers were hanging on to the spikes that are intended to stop people from crossing the breakwater.

A Portreath Coastguard rescue officer said: “They’re hanging on to the spikes and waiting for large waves to knock them into the water. We’d been out twice asking them to stop, but they didn’t.

“I was convinced one of them was going to get impaled.

Falmouth Packet:

A Coastguard rescue office wearing a dry suit and life jacket and tethered to the railings tries to discourage children and youths from jumping from the breakwater. Picture: Colin Higgs

“They jump in the water, the Coastguard get called out by the public. But we can’t stop them.

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“We have no rights to stop them. All we can do is advise them of the danger they’re in, and set up swimmers and observers all around the harbour so if something does happen we can respond to it immediately.”

And this is exactly what did happen last night.

The rescue officer continued: “We had three or four that had minor injures where they were bashed against the wall and cut legs.

Falmouth Packet:

The group wait for the waves to wash them into the sea. Picture: Colin Higgs

“Then a 13-year-old girl was up there and she wrapped her legs around the spike. The wave hit her with huge force – a couple of tonnes of water came at her. Her body went one way, her leg went the other way.

“She fell in the water and we had swimmers tethered for this kind of event.”

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The girl was rescued from the water but was unable to walk on her injured leg. The coastguards offered to call an ambulance before contacting her parents.

“They were horrified at what she had been doing,” said the rescue officer. “It’s so dangerous.”

He said this had been taking place a number of times this week and the team was urging parents to know what was happening and to stop their children.

“The message from the coastguard is, ‘Don’t do it’,” he added.

The safety warnings have so far fallen on deaf ears, however, with signs also being ripped down almost immediately.

“I’ve put up warning signs for our campaign ‘Don’t jump into the unknown’. I’ve put up stickers and posters. They just rip them down as soon as I’m going back to the car,” said the rescue officer.