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Last Updated: Wednesday, 21 September 2005, 12:41 GMT 13:41 UK
Boys drowned 'trying to save dog'
Alex Yorke and Oliver Harvey
Alex (l) and Oliver drowned trying to save a dog
Two boys drowned after being swept out to sea by a ferocious wave as they tried to rescue a pet dog, an inquest has been told.

Teenagers Alex Yorke and Oliver Harvey had tried to coax Oliver's pet border collie Sarah out of rough seas in Blackpool in May.

But the 16-year-olds were forced to let go of a railing when the wave hit them and were carried out to sea.

Fylde coroner Anne Hind recorded verdicts of accidental death.

She described the incident as an appalling tragedy, and said the boys had not been foolish or reckless, but acted out of the "very, very best possible motives" to save the dog.

Every year the sea claims victims - it can be a terrible force and a ferocious force and we underestimate it at our peri
Coroner Anne Hind

The inquest, at Blackpool Town Hall, was told the boys were walking on a Saturday afternoon with three friends when Sarah jumped into the sea and got into difficulties.

Alex and Oliver climbed on to railings on the ramp of the sea wall and tried to call Sarah back to the shore.

In a statement to the court, one of the friends who was not named said: "A big wave came on to the ramp and took Oliver and Alex into the sea. They both tried to hold on to the railings. They just kept getting pulled out and smashed back in again."

Lifeguards threw rings into the sea and coastguards and helicopters were also scrambled.

Blackpool seafront, where the two boys were swept away
The boys were hit by the 'ferocious wave' near the North Pier

Oliver was spotted and winched out of the sea by a helicopter and taken to hospital, but he died later.

Alex's body was washed up on a beach two miles north a week later.

The dog was also found dead.

Ms Hind said: "Every year the sea claims victims. It can be a terrible force and a ferocious force and we underestimate it at our peril.

"They were overtaken by the tragedy of a ferocious wave.

"These boys were 16, their lives ended in this terrible way before really their lives had the proper chance to start.

"Their dreams will never be fulfilled."

The boys' parents said Alex had wanted to be a vet, while Oliver had always been keen on keeping pets and had been studying business administration.

The stretch of sea where the boys died is known to be dangerous - three Lancashire Police officers were drowned there in 1983 trying to save a man who went in after his dog.

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