INVESTIGATIONS are under way into a huge wave that hit the Suffolk coast, sweeping two young girls off their feet.Frantic parents ran into the sea at Felixstowe to rescue the two five-year-olds after they had been "swamped" by the wall of water.
By Richard Smith
INVESTIGATIONS are under way into a huge wave that hit the Suffolk coast, sweeping two young girls off their feet.
Frantic parents ran into the sea at Felixstowe to rescue the two five-year-olds after they had been "swamped" by the wall of water.
Coastguards launched an immediate inquiry into the incident last Friday evening – but last night the source of the wave remained a mystery.
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The drama unfolded when John Gilbert, 35, of Woodbridge, and his daughter Tabitha, five, joined their friends Jo Garrod, Bradley Howe, seven, and Lauren Garrod, five, to spend the evening at Felixstowe.
The sea was very calm and the girls started paddling in the water between the pier and Mannings amusements, said Mr Gilbert.
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"There was no reason not to let the children paddle and there was a couple of slightly older children swimming not far away from us," he added.
"We saw a boat coming in and after that had passed there was one very large wave and this resulted in taking the girls off their feet. It was a big wave that completely swamped them.
"We went running down and grabbed them out of the water. They were very distressed and upset and we put them in a bath at home to calm them down and warm them up."
Mrs Garrod, who runs the Crown Point fish and chip shop in Martlesham, said: "It was awful. I heard Lauren screaming and I turned round. It was absolutely awful, I thought she would drown. The wave was big enough to knock me over."
Mr Gilbert alerted Suffolk police, the coastguard and a harbourmaster to the incident.
"The coastguards have said they would look into it, but they said because nobody was injured they would do an investigation rather than a full inquiry," he added.
"I do feel it needs to be investigated because there is obviously the potential for a reoccurrence."
The families said they believed the wave and subsequent smaller waves had come from wash of the Stena HSS Discovery catamaran as the ferry prepared to enter Harwich on its journey from the Hook of Holland.
But Harwich Haven Authority said it had examined the movements of boats last Friday evening and the catamaran was not in the area at the time of the incident.
Stephen Bracewell, chief executive of the authority, said: "An investigation has been started and one of the initial findings is that it was not the Stena HSS Discovery. There were a number of commercial vessels in the area and there was a wave.
"That is not unusual because we do get waves on beaches, but the source of the wave is unknown and may never be known.''
Thames Coastguard at Walton-on-the-Naze confirmed that a report had been received on Friday evening about a huge wave.
"We did take a report and we passed it on to the Harwich Haven Authority," said a spokesman.