THE parents of a girl left brain damaged after a seaside accident have sent a heart-felt message to the family of a mum and boy who drowned in the sea off Aberdeen.
Andy and Nikki MacLean’s lives changed forever when their daughter Katie-Lou was left severely injured after she and a friend were swept into the sea by 20ft waves.
Onlookers, the coastguard and police risked their lives to rescue the youngsters when waves washed them off steps at the harbour wall in Eyemouth, Berwickshire.
Katie-Lou, 18, sustained severe brain injuries in the 2012 accident and is now quadriplegic and cannot speak.
Andy and Nikki said their hearts sank when they heard news of the tragic deaths of Julie Walker, 37, and her six-year-old son Lucas.
Lucas was swept into the sea during a family day out in Aberdeen last Saturday. Julie and her other son Jordan, 13, went into the water to try to save the youngster.
Jordan was rescued and taken to hospital along with a man and woman who were hurt as they tried to rescue the family.
When asked what message they would give to Julie’s family Andy, 39, said: “We know nothing anyone says right now is of any comfort. We would just say, know that people are thinking of you and care for you.”
Last week Julie’s family thanked members of the public for their help as well as the efforts of the emergency services.
In total 11 people were killed in coastal accidents in Britain last week.
On Friday August 19, a father and his two-year-old daughter were killed in Newquay, Cornwall, after they were swept out to sea.
The next day a man in his 50s drowned at Sandbanks while a 57-year-old man died while windsurfing off West Mersea, Essex.
Then on Wednesday five men died in the water at Camber Sands, East Sussex.
Andy said the families of those affected would struggle to come to terms with what’s happened.
He said: “Every time we hear of a drowning or near-drowning our hearts sink. It’s desperately sad for the families and we know its such a hard thing to try to comprehend.
“Our lives and Katie-Lou’s life has changed drastically since the accident. She requires 24/7 care.
“We are very lucky in that we still have our girl but are devastated that her future is not going to be as we hoped for her.”
After Katie-Lou’s accident life-rings were installed at Eyemouth.
Her parents have said that if they had been in place at the time she may have been rescued earlier and not suffered brain damage.
Since her accident they said they had also discovered there was “very little legislation concerning risk assessments for public beaches”.
They also said there is no legal obligation to provide a minimum level of life-saving equipment.
The couple petitioned the Government to change the law to make it a legal obligation for public beach operators to conduct risk assessments. They also called upon the Government to make it a legal obligation for public beach operators to provide a minimum level of life-saving equipment regardless of risk outlined in the risk assessment.
Andy said: “I would urge people to take note of whether their local beach has adequate safety signage and equipment and, if not, to contact their local council about it.
“I think it’s even more important that people respect the sea’s potential dangers.”
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