September 17 2014 Latest news:
Alex Hurrell, Reporter
Monday, May 19, 2014
Shocked diver Adam Wigley has described the moment he realised someone had “borrowed” his tractor to recover their sinking Jeep - and ended up drowning his vehicle too.
Mr Wigley, 34, from Norwich, returned from a diving trip off the coast at Trimingham on Sunday to discover his tractor in the sea, up to its roof in water, with the sunken Jeep.
After using it to launch his dive boat, he said the tractor had been left safely out of the reach of the water, on the cliff.
Mr Wigley said two men had taken the tractor without permission to rescue their Jeep which had got stuck in the sand when they had tried to use it to launch a fishing boat.
The men were nowhere to be seen and Mr Wigley was told they were both exhausted.
An ambulance spokesman confirmed that one man had been taken to hospital with chest pains after the incident.
Mr Wigley said he and five others had waited until low tide to recover the vehicles, which were both write-offs. He estimated his tractor was worth £2,000 and said its loss was a great inconvenience.
“I suppose he panicked and didn’t think,” he said. “I’m a lot of money out of pocket but I’m sure the guy will make it right.”
Happisburgh and Mundesley coastguards were alerted after reports that the vehicles were underwater off Vale Road, between Mundesley and Trimingham.
Happisburgh coastguard Christon Sharpe said he was paged just before 8am.
“As I got to the top of Vale Road I could see clearly a silver Jeep and a red tractor quite heavily submerged in the sea,” he said.
“Initially the tide was on the rise and the headlights on the Jeep were showing. By the time we stood down it was up to the top of the windscreen.”
Mr Sharpe said a small group of people had been using the Jeep to launch an open-topped fishing boat with an outboard engine.
The Jeep had got stuck as the tide came in. Mr Sharpe said the Jeep was about five or six years old.
“It was the first time they had gone out with the boat and it sounds as though they got the tide wrong. They misjudged the sand state and got embedded,” he added.
Coastguards had kept watch to make sure no-one put themselves in danger trying to recover the vehicles. Mundesley and Happisburgh lifeboats also kept an eye on the scene.
“The number one message is, if you’re launching a boat, check the tide state first,” said Mr Sharpe.
He also urged boat owners to check that any vehicle they used was able to do the job.
And he warned: “It may look like crusty sand on top but underneath it’s loose and as soon as you plant a wheel in it, it goes straight down.”
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