When a man slipped off a seafront walkway and into the ocean in Yorkshire, England, his friend dove after him, and then two onlookers tried to rescue them. Quickly, all four were struggling to scamper up a wet, slanted wall while being battered by massive waves.
Footage of the incident showed that a crowd swiftly gathered, and about seven people formed a human chain, locking hands down the slippery, concrete slope and pulling each of the four people out of the water, as well as tossing out a life preserver.
In an interview with The Independent, Dave Cocks, a local operations manager at a charity that does coastal rescues, said, “This was a sequence of events which could so easily have led to multiple deaths. The sea at Redcar is very rough as a result of the combined effects of strong winds and a particularly high tide, and the situation ended up with four adults in trouble in the sea, all needing rescue. It is only through good fortune that all four were rescued alive.”
"Human chains" have been used before in some high-profile rescues, such the 80-person link used to save a family caught in a Florida riptide. There is something kind of beautiful and symbolic about these moments — a sense that humankind will band together to pull the vulnerable people to shore.
Banner and thumbnail credit: Reuters, David Gray