Page last updated at 15:28 GMT, Monday, 27 July 2009 16:28 UK

Swimmer died despite major search

Lifeboat involved in the search. Photo: John Tuttiett
Rescue boats were on the scene quickly

Rescuers said they were mystified after a swimmer died when he got into difficulty, despite them being quickly on the scene.

A large-scale search, including lifeboats and helicopters, was launched off Whitley Bay on Saturday afternoon.

But the body of Thomas McCreadie, 18, from the Longbenton area, was not found until early on Sunday.

The teenager had been swimming with a friend in a designated area which was patrolled by lifeguards.

North Tyneside Council lifeguard manager Phil Scott said: "It's a mystery at the moment. We are baffled.

"We had people on site responding within seconds of being alerted and being unable to find the person. Very, very unusual."

When you launch and get on the scene within five minutes you expect to give somebody a very good chance of saving them
Cullercoats RNLI senior helmsman Robert Oliver

The search involved the coastguard, lifeboat, police helicopter, police officers on land and the volunteer life brigade.

Cullercoats RNLI senior helmsman Robert Oliver said the team was paged and was at the scene within five or six minutes.

He said: "When you launch and get on the scene within five minutes you expect to give somebody a very good chance of saving them, but on that day there was nothing to be seen."

He added: "We have got a couple of sandbanks, banks of seaweed and things which cause little rushes of tide in the area.

"That day was spring tide so there was quite a lot of tide in the area."



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