Harrowing moment frantic mum calls 999 as ‘daughters are drowning’ at beach

Mother's 999 call after her daughters are swept into the sea

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Milena Smith faced every parent’s worst nightmare earlier this month when she was visiting Barmouth with her husband, Dave, and their two children Mabel, 12 and Elsie, 10. The family, from Birkenhead, were spending the day on the beach with both children paddling up to their waist in the water. Suddenly, without warning, the kids began screaming and Milena and Dave quickly realised that both girls were in extreme danger.

According to North Wales Live, Dave immediately ran to help the girls, while Milena, who cannot swim, called 999 for help. In the call to the coastguard, Milena can be heard telling the operator “my daughters are drowning.”

She says: “I can’t see them. I can’t see them. My children are 10 and 12. I can’t see them anymore.

“My husband has gone in to try to find them. I can’t see them, I think they are way out of their depths.”

Ben Hiller, HM Coastguard Maritime Operations Officer, who took the call, can be heard reassuring Milena that help was on the way. Having told her that crews were already in the area, Milena can be heard asking someone: “Please tell me she’s breathing. Is she alright? I just want my family out of the sea.”

It’s at that moment Milena spots her husband walking toward her with Elsie. She says: “My husband has one of my children. I think the other one got swept out. Where is my other one?”

Thankfully, while Milena was on the phone with the operator, RNLI volunteers located Mabel around a quarter of a mile out to sea, floating on her back. Just before the pair were separated, Elsie had shouted to Mabel to float like a starfish.

The youngster had been given this vital piece of information during swimming lessons at school as part of the RNLI’s Float to Live campaign. It means that, if you ever find yourself getting into a difficult situation at sea, you should lean back and spread your arms and legs to stay afloat and control your breathing.

The family were back in North Wales today to thank the RNLI and HM Coastguard for saving their daughter’s lives. Mum Milena said: “I walked out into the sea but I couldn’t see them anymore and I couldn’t see my husband anymore.

“I had this image in my head of driving home by myself. I came with the family but I would be driving home by myself.

“All of my family was out there. It was absolutely terrifying.

“Quite quickly we were back together, we were safe, the girls were OK. It has really changed us as a family, we’re now much closer.

“Obviously it was a very terrifying incident but we have decided that we will not let this control our lives.” She added that, whilst Mabel and Elsie initially said they never wanted to go in the sea again, Milena quickly got them both back into swimming lessons when they returned home and has now decided to learn how to swim herself.

For more information about the Float To Live campaign, as well as advice on what to do if you ever find yourself in a similar situation, you can visit the RNLI website here. 

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