The search for the 11-year-old in the Baltic Sea at the bathing beach in Łeba was one of many this holiday season. The day was sunny, there were plenty of sunbathers and bathers. When they found out about the missing child, several hundred joined the rescuers. The beach was combed, four chains of life were formed. – I have been a lifeguard for 17 years, but this is the first time I have met with such a great response from people – emphasized in an interview with tvn24.pl, talking about that action, Kacper Treder, coordinator of lifeguards on the beach in Łeba. After 40 minutes the boy found himself safe and sound. It turned out that, having lost sight of his mother, he went to his father’s hotel.
On Thursday, around 2:10 PM, the beach in Łeba froze. – We were contacted by a woman claiming that her 11-year-old son was missing. According to her account, they were swimming in the sea together. Then she “for a while” went ashore, and when she came back, the baby was gone. We had to act quickly. We immediately started a rescue operation – this is how Kacper Treder, the coordinator of lifeguards on the beach in Łeba, recalled the events of that day in an interview with tvn24.pl.
The fire brigade, the police and the Sea Search and Rescue Service were informed about the disappearance of the 11-year-old. Ordinary sunbathers, who were in abundance on this sunny day by the Baltic Sea, also wanted to help.
Four hundred people, four chains of life
Treder related, “Whenever you hear a long whistle on the beach and you see something going up, people start asking what’s going on and how they can help.” The slogan was made that volunteers for the life chain were needed to check the bathing area as soon as possible.
After two minutes, several dozen people reported, a moment later four hundred of them were involved in the action. – I have been a lifeguard for 17 years, and for three years I have been coordinating activities here in Łeba, but for the first time I met with such a great response from people who wanted to help us – emphasized the lifeguard.
In total, four chains of life were created. – People hand in hand and shoulder to shoulder combed the designated area. During this time, rescuers checked the most dangerous places near the spurs – says Treder.
Two dramas, a happy ending, time for reflection
The boy’s mother, who had previously left the child alone at sea, stayed near the lifeguard stand during the search. As Treder recalled, she was “shaken”.
After 40 minutes, it turned out that the 11-year-old was safe and sound. He showed up at the beach with his father. – And only after the whole family cooled down, we found out what it all looked like from the perspective of the boy and his father – noted Kacper Treder. When the boy lost sight of his mother and couldn’t find her, he went to the hotel to tell his dad. – When they both showed up on the beach and saw what was happening, they were convinced that we were looking for a missing woman, the mother of an 11-year-old. It can be said that this family experienced two dramas for several dozen minutes – said the rescuer.
Every year, lifeguards call for prudent and safe spending of time by the water. The point is not only not to take a bath after alcohol, follow the instructions of lifeguards, do not bathe near breakwaters or watch out for reverse currents. – Let’s keep an eye on the children, let’s not let them out of our sight even for a moment. But let’s also keep an eye on the other adults who are with us. Let us talk about where we are going and with whom, what we are going to do and when we more or less intend to come back. Such actions could prevent many tragedies or simply raise false alarms, emphasized Kacper Treder.
As they emphasize initiators of the police action “Don’t let me get lost”, a beach full of people and screens can be a maze for a child. A moment of inattention for caregivers is enough to lose the child from sight. There are many examples. At the end of July, to find a nine-year-old girl in Międzyzdroje (West Pomeranian Voivodeship), sunbathers and lifeguards have formed three chains of life. After 40 minutes, the girl found herself alive and well on land.
A few days earlier, a similar situation had happened in Sopot. A four-year-old child went missing there. Back then, sunbathers also helped the rescuers in their search. They grabbed their hands and began to comb the seabed. After 10 minutes, the girl found herself on the beach 200 meters away.
At the beginning of July, a four-year-old girl who was with her parents on the beach in Mielno (West Pomeranian Voivodeship), only a kilometer away. In 2019, a six-year-old girl from the beach in Świnoujście and she wandered as far as Germany. So she had to walk eight kilometers.
Disappearances at the seaside
According to the lifeguards from the Volunteer Water Rescue Service in Gniewino, who are also responsible for safety in Łeba, they receive from a few to a dozen or so reports on beach disappearances daily in their area. – Last year there was a situation in which the man did not know that the family was looking for him. But when he heard that we were creating a chain of life, he volunteered for it. You could say he was looking for himself, Treder noted.
Main photo source: WOPR in Gniew