Weston Super Mare RNLI Volunteer lifeboat crew were called by Milford Haven Coastguard at 23.18 on Saturday night after a report from a member of the public. He claimed to have been swimming with a friend who appeared not to have returned to the shore and whose clothes were still on the beach.
Both B796 “Coventry and Warwickshire” and D696 “Anna Stock” lifeboats launched within 7 minutes and made best speed to the Grand Pier area of Weston bay in poor visibility. There, they started a coordinated search pattern around the area. In light of the situation Milford Haven Coastguard decided to call Coastguard helicopter Rescue 187 from St Athan to assist the Lifeboats and Coastguards.
The Lifeboats conducted further searches between Knightstone Island and the North side of Brean down. Weston Coastguard Teams and Weston RNLI shore crew conducted a shore side search for the reported persons and attempted to locate the clothes that had been left on the beach. Rescue 187 searched Weston bay between Brean down and Birnbeck Island thoroughly and reporting the view from the air for searching as “epic conditions”.
At 00.35 all the search and rescue units were advised to stand down following an updated report from Avon and Somerset Police that the individual responsible for the reported missing swimmer had in fact fabricated a story and it had be a “malicious hoax” He was subsequently arrested
The lifeboats returned to base and were made ready for service, the crew stood down and returned to their beds at 01.30.
Weston RNLI Helmsman Mark Frost said ” This was a huge search effort from multi agencies which could have been avoided, however should anyone spot a person in danger in the water contact the Coastguard on 999 and give clear factual report of the situation that they are witnessing.